Lokahi Valpoon kicked and jabbed at Kids Summer Fest. He entered a relay race, visited emergency responders and even checked out zucchini noodles.
It was a full morning for the 2-year-old.
“He’s happy. He loves it,” said his mom, Chavez Enrique. “He didn’t want to go home.”
The tired toddler eventually did, but not before joining nearly 1,000 kids and adults who attended the free annual community health event put on by Wilcox Memorial Hospital at Smith’s Tropical Paradise on a sunny Saturday morning.
It included activities, programs, prizes and snacks. There were free sports physicals for children ages 5-18, a chance to meet Tucker, a hospital therapy dog, and an opportunity to sit in the front seat of a fire truck. Children and parents learned about exercise, nutrition and injury prevention, with the goal being to promote healthy, active lifestyles through a fun, interactive format.
Dawn Silver joined her sister and a large group of children at the Summer Fest.
“It’s a fabulous event,” she said.
She believed it was having an impact, too.
“I think so. My nephew just came for more zucchini noodles,” she said, smiling.
Tyler Takemoco was giving marital arts lessons to youngsters while his wife, Richelle, an orthopedic surgeon at Wilcox, helped out. Tyler explained, encouraged and watched as kids whirled and showed off some impressive spin moves and a knack for connecting blows on his padded gloves.
“Well done,” Tyler said as he nodded in approval.
Sharon de la Pena was working at a stand where they were serving up zucchini noodles. And yes, they were busy, especially as word began to spread of their tasty treat.
“Some of the kids, they didn’t want to try it,” she said. “But once they did, they came back for seconds and thirds.”
The idea was to introduce healthy foods into the diet of Kauai’s youth and share recipes with mom and dad.
“I think the parents got a great idea on a new way to introduce a vegetable,” de la Pena said. “The kids really loved it.”
Kids came away happy, too.
David Olmo won a bike in a drawing, but didn’t plan to keep it, as it was a bit small for him.
“So I’m going to give it to my brother (Daniel),” he said.
Dr. Grace Galiza is a pediatrician at Wilcox Memorial Hospital and co-chair of Kids Summer Fest.
“I was in awe at how the community came together to promote health and wellness,” she said.
It’s important, Galiza said, that children learn early about nutrition and exercise and how to incorporate that into their daily activities. That message is getting through. Kids, she said, are being more active, eating better and not being so focused on video games, TV, movies and their cellphones.
“I think there’s definitely a movement toward more exercise,” she said, “and in general, a movement toward healthy eating.”
“As a pediatrician, it’s good to see families adopt that kind of lifestyle,” she said.
Parents play a big role in preventing their children from consuming too much junk food, like chips and soda, by instead stocking the home with fruits and vegetables and turning the TV off.
“The earlier we catch kids, the better it is,” she said.