By Dedra Cordle
As someone who has loved being physically active since childhood, Urbancrest Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. could barely stand it when surgery on a lingering foot problem sidelined him for months. In fact, he literally could not stand.
“I was bed-ridden,” he said. “All I could do was lay in bed and keep my (left) foot elevated. I could not put it down for three weeks.”
While confined to his mattress, Barnes said he started to think about the people who are unable to enjoy physical activities due to various health-related ailments. He wondered what he could do to help those who may be going through something more debilitating or permanent than his four month convalescence.
“I got cabin fever during that time so I can only imagine how awful it would be to be kept away from physical activity long term,” he said.
Shortly after his recovery, Barnes started brainstorming on ways to get the community active. He implemented health days by bringing in public health workers to talk with the community about related issues and he encouraged children to get involved in sports. Next month, he is implementing a new health awareness campaign that he hopes will become an annual event in the village. It is called The Mayor’s Fitness Day and it will take place on Aug. 8 at the Martin Luther King Park.
According to Barnes, representatives with the county health department, the Jackson Township Fire Department, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Wellness Champions of Columbus will be on hand to give free health screenings, offer advice and answer questions regarding personal health and wellness and demonstrate life-saving techniques for those who are in distress. Participants at the event will also be encouraged to walk, jog or run the track, play a game of basketball or ride a bike around the park as well. Those who do bring their bicycles will be given a free safety helmet.
Barnes said he wants this event, whose slogan is “Your First Wealth Is Your Health,” to kick-start interest in living a healthier and active lifestyle.
“Taking care of my health is important to me because I have responsibilities to the community, my family and the people around me.”
He said there are 90-year-old people out there who are still active and you can really tell that they have chosen a good lifestyle.
“They took care of themselves when they were younger, they treated their bodies like a temple and that temple still stands,” he said. “If you start treating your body like a temple, it will still stand too.”
The Mayor’s Fitness Day, which begins on Aug. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Park, is open to all ages. He said it will likely run until noon.