Planting the seeds of wellness

Messenger photo by Pat Donahue
Belon Hill (left), youth-led preventionist with Madison County Public Health, leads a conversation around a wheel of strengths created with pieces found in a scavenger hunt. The activity was part of the “Planting in the Park” event held June 20 at Garrette Park in West Jefferson. Taking part are: Ace Davis, 6, Riley Burrows, 8, Daxton Dupke, 5, Paisley Dupke, 10, and Ivory Redd, 8.

(Posted June 25, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County Public Health (MCPH), in collaboration with Madison County Juvenile Court, is hosting free programs for children this summer. The goal is to offer fun, positive, interactive activities that promote overall wellness.

The first event, “Planting in the Park,” took place June 13 at Merri-Mac Park and Cowling Park in London and June 20 at Westwood Park and Garrette Park in West Jefferson. Participants planted sunflower seeds to take home, beat the heat with water races, played Connect 4 and Jenga, and hunted for wellness pieces hidden around the park.

Organizers provided brief lessons related to the wellness pieces, part of their strengths-based prevention programming. The program’s eight dimensions of wellness are family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, physical health, and mental health.

“We’re trying to give kids something else to do in the summertime. They’re coming to the parks and participating, moving, and playing games. They’re also learning how to develop healthy relationships with others. All of those are positive activities,” said Karen Wells, MCPH prevention manager.

For the second event, “Painting in the Park,” participants will paint on canvases, make trail mix, and play outdoor games. The schedule is as follows:

• Merri-Mac Park in London–July 18 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.;
• Cowling Park in London–July 18 from 1 to 2:15 p.m.;
• Westwood Park in West Jefferson–Aug. 8 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; and
• Garrette Park in West Jefferson–Aug. 8 from 1 to 2:15 p.m.

No registration is required. Children of all ages are welcome to participate.

“This is our first year doing this. So, we planned two activities at four parks. This is a start. At the end of the summer, we will evaluate how things went and make plans for any changes and growth for next summer,” Wells said.

The idea to offer summer programming came from Belon Hill who joined MCPH last October as a youth-led preventionist. She participated in such programming as a youth in her hometown and helped to put it on when she was a teen. With this experience, she offered to get the ball rolling in Madison County. Lexi Paul, a probation officer with the Juvenile Court, also has been instrumental in starting up the program.

For details, call Madison County Public Health at (740) 852-3065, ext. 1510.

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