YMCA celebrates healthy kids

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

How does one build a person? The Suffolk YMCA has a few ideas.

Currently in the second month of its &uot;We Build People&uot; campaign, the Godwin Boulevard facility celebrated National Healthy Kids Day on Saturday.

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The event began at 9 a.m. at Lone Star Lakes Park, where the Y held a 5K run. For the second consecutive year, Murfreesboro, N.C. resident Pete Gibson won the event. Pam Simmons of Suffolk was the top female finisher. At 9:45 a.m., the younger participants ran in the One-Mile Run/Walk. Ryan Spruiell of Suffolk and Angela Blanchard of Virginia Beach, both 11, finished first in their respective age groups. The race brought in roughly $7,000 for the fitness facility.

On the lawns outside the building, the Kids Day Fair itself began at 10 a.m. Lt. Les Stickels of the Suffolk Fire Department showed the children the basics of a fire engine.

&uot;The kids learn a lot about fire safety in school,&uot; Stickles said, &uot;but here, they can get on the truck and learn about the equipment and how it works. They get to see what firemen look like in their gear, so they don’t get scared if they see one come looking for them in a fire.&uot;

The Suffolk Red Cross handed out fingerprint kits and KidCare IDs to parents. The ID provides a section for several photographs of the child, along with race, eyes, hair, blood type, identifying features, and other important information if the child were to become lost.

In the outdoor pool, the Suffolk Police Department Search and Recovery team demonstrated its techniques. After showing off the diving gear, the members showed onlookers how the team would recover a person or a piece of evidence from a murky lake, and how the divers communicate underwater.

&uot;It seems like you’re in another world (under the water),&uot; said Officer Chuck Terrell. &uot;When there are two divers, they’re connected with a tethered rope. Two tugs might mean ‘turn left,’ three tugs, ‘turn right,’ and four, ‘come up.’&uot;

But it was also a day for fun. Wayne Spencer’s tae kwon do class put on a demonstration of martial arts, including hapkido, a form of self-defense.

&uot;We did that to promote the YMCA and martial arts itself,&uot; said Spencer. &uot;It’s great for keeping the kids and me in shape.&uot;

Meanwhile, Blanchard and Abby Maurno, 11, battled on the jousting platform, slugging each other with long pieces of foam.

&uot;It was fun to fall off,&uot; said Maurno, a student at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. &uot;But it was really fun to see her fall off!&uot;