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Kids, adults urged to turn off screens Sept. 20-26

The more time that people, especially children, spend in front of TVs and computers the less active and unhealthier they become. It’s a simple but challenging fact, one that The Rapides Foundation is committed to changing, one week at a time.

Through grants funded by the Foundation, Central Louisiana organizations, communities and schools are stepping away from screens for one week and sponsoring healthy activities for adults and children. 

Sept. 20-26 is Turnoff Week, a nationally recognized week that encourages people to engage in healthy activities and spend quality time with their families, without being sidetracked by electronics and gadgets.

The Rapides Foundation’s Diet and Physical Activity Initiative endorses Turnoff Week because research shows that reduction in screen time can improve a person’s health, which is at the heart of the initiative’s goals to increase physical activity and healthy eating for children and adults.

“Childhood obesity rates have soared in recent years, especially in Central Louisiana,” said Joe Rosier, president and chief executive officer of The Rapides Foundation. “There is something we can all do to help decrease these numbers. We encourage everyone to try to limit their screen time and choose to be physically active for their children’s health and their own.”

School districts receiving grants are Allen, Avoyelles, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. Several organizations are also participating in Turnoff Week. They include the City of Natchitoches, Cane River Green Market, Food Bank of Central Louisiana, Boys & Girls Club of El Camino Real, Fit Families for Cenla, LSU AgCenter, The Health Enrichment Network, Central Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition and the Town of Oberlin.

Central Louisiana students in grades K-8 are bringing home brochures and newsletters containing a list of screen-free activities they can do with their parents and families. Many students will sign pledge cards promising they will have a screen-free week and will log their screen-free daily activities. Several schools will hold activities during the school day that promote being physically active instead of sedentary.

While many activities are for schoolchildren and their families, the following Turnoff Week activities are open to the public. They are free of charge, unless noted. For an up-to-date list of events, visit 

Allen Parish
The Health Enrichment Network Proclamation Signing and Downtown Walk is a walk where participants will surrender electronic devices and walk around downtown Oakdale on Monday, Sept. 20, from noon to 1 p.m. starting at City Hall. Participants will receive bottled water and a pedometer.

Oakdale Elementary SPARK Open House will be held Monday, Sept. 20, through Thursday, Sept. 23, in the school’s Physical Education Room from 8-11 a.m. and 12:40-1:45 p.m. Parents and community members are encouraged to visit the school to see the SPARK program in action. Prizes will be given.

THEN Youth Activity Night is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 4-7 p.m. at the Bread of Life Dream Center in Oakdale. It will feature basketball, volleyball and free health screenings for youth.

Reeves High School Twist and Turn off Your Screens is a community dance for the school’s students, faculty, staff and Reeves community members. The dance is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 5-6:30 p.m. in the gym. 

Kinder Elementary Family Reading Night and Healthy Snack Taste Test Event is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 4:30-6 p.m. in the cafeteria. Parents and children will play reading games and taste test healthy snacks.

Fairview High School Safari Reading Scavenger Hunt and Turnoff Week Event is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 5:30-7 p.m. Students and their families will participate in a scavenger hunt throughout the school listening to a story at several stations in the schools. Students will also demonstrate SPARK physical activities for their families.

Town of Oberlin Farmer’s Market “A Walk in the Park” is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 5-7 p.m. at the Oberlin City Park. Families are invited to walk the updated walk path, listen to Cajun music, play in the football toss, go through the obstacle course or throw horseshoes.

Elizabeth High School Reading and Turnoff Week Night is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 4:45-7 p.m. in the library. Children and their parents will read books and take quizzes on as many books as they can in one hour. They will then hear a presentation about Turnoff Week and see a demonstration of SPARK.

Oberlin Elementary School Family Reading Night is Thursday, Sept. 23 from 5-7 p.m.  Students will read book and do activities for Turnoff Week with their families.

THEN Health Screening is Friday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m-1 p.m. at the Donna Bell Insurance Office in Oakdale. A free health screening and chair exercise demo will be presented. Stop in and register for giveaways and learn ways to improve your health.

Celebrating Success Assembly is Friday, Sept. 24 in the Kinder Middle School Gym from 2-2:45 p.m. The school-wide assembly will feature activities that support Turnoff Week including line dancing to popular music and a Pacer Run.

THEN Oakdale Line Dancing is an evening of line dancing, ping pong and dodge ball on Friday, Sept. 24, from 5:30-7 p.m. at THEN Wellness Center.

Get In Gear Oakdale Night at the THEN Wellness Center is Monday, Sept. 27, from 5:30-7 p.m. Group exercise, Wii games and basketball will be offered as well as prizes and healthy snacks.

Avoyelles Parish
Marksville Elementary Family Game and Nutrition Night is Monday, Sept. 20, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. Students and their families will play games outside and be provided nutritious snacks. Avoyelles 4-H and Bunkie General Hospital will be promoting healthy eating. 

Avoyelles High Walkathon is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the walking track. Each lap participants walk, they will be able to put their name in the hat to win prizes at the end of the walk.

Bunkie Elementary Gym Walk is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 4-5 p.m. Each lap students and parents walk, they will be able to enter the drawing to win prizes at the end of the walk.

Lafargue Elementary Gym Walk is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 3:30-4 p.m. at Lafargue Elementary in Effie.

The LSU AgCenter Avoyelles Bayou Barbecue Cook-off will feature demonstrations on how to make veggie chicken kabobs on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Plaucheville Community Center. LSU hopscotch and LSU cupstack will also be played to promote healthier game-day activities.

Grant Parish
Georgetown High Family Sports Night is Monday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. The basketball game is open to the public. During game breaks, basketball relays and other activities promoting physical activity will be played for prizes.

South Grant Elementary Read Across America Family Night is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 5:30-7 p.m. Each hallway of the school will present literacy activities around specific regions of the country. The gym will represent the West region and host a western line dancing event.

Grant High Family Sports Night is Thursday, Sept. 23, at 6 p.m. The football game is open to the public. Student mentors will involve the crowd with the wave and various mini-games. During halftime, a mini-training camp with games will be played on the sidelines.

Montgomery High Family Sports Night is Friday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. The football game is open to the public. Student mentors will involve the crowd with the wave and various mini-games. During halftime, a mini-training camp with games will be played on the sidelines.

LSU AgCenter Pollock Family Fun Day is at the Camp Grant Walker Educational Center in Pollock on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy fishing, bicycling and swimming. Don’t forget to bring a healthy picnic lunch and a fishing pole. Water will be provided.

LaSalle Parish
LSU AgCenter Jena Tune in to Family Fun with games, relays and yogurt parfaits on Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Jena City Park. Register for free by Sept. 17 by calling 318-992-2205.

Olla Elementary Parent Wellness Night is on Thursday, Sept. 23, from 6-7 p.m. The event will have designated areas for activities and health and nutrition. Healthy refreshments will be served.

Natchitoches Parish
Cane River Green Market Fall Harvest is Saturday, Sept. 18, from 8 a.m.-noon on the downtown Natchitoches riverbank. The market includes fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, jellies and bread, as well as handcrafted artwork, live music and giveaways.

Natchitoches Habitat for Humanity 5K & 1-Mile Run/Walk is Saturday, Sept. 18, with the races starting at 8 a.m. on the downtown Natchitoches riverbank on Front Street. Natchitoches Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Get Fit Natchitoches and the Natchitoches Run/Walk Club. A post-race “pastalya” meal is included. Race fees apply.

City of Natchitoches Parks & Recreation Adult Softball Game is Monday, Sept. 20, starting at 7 p.m. at Highland Park in Natchitoches. Adults throughout the parish can play for free by contacting Davin White at 318-357-3891.

Farmers Market Bingo will be played at the Natchitoches Council on Aging on Monday, Sept. 20, from 10-10:30 a.m. The Cane River Green Market will also provide prizes to the winners.

City of Natchitoches Parks & Recreation Open Basketball Play is Monday, Sept. 20, and Wednesday, Sept. 22, from 12-3 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Center in Natchitoches. 

Cooking Demonstration for senior citizens will be held at the Natchitoches Council on Aging on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 11 a.m. Fresh ingredients from the Cane River Green Market will be used.

City of Natchitoches Parks & Recreation Pickleball Open Play is Monday, Sept. 20, and Thursday, Sept. 23, from 9-11 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Center in Natchitoches.

“Bring a Friend” Walking Challenge is Tuesday, Sept. 21, and Thursday, Sept. 23. Members of the Natchitoches Run/Walk Club will recruit family and friends to participate in group neighborhood walks. Group photos will be submitted to the club with the winning group’s photo sent to the Natchitoches Times for publication in the sports section.

Northwestern State University Volleyball Game is Thursday, Sept. 23 versus Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. at Prather Coliseum. All youth get into the game free and will receive a free smoothie.

Meat-Pie Triathlon is in Natchitoches on Sunday, Sept. 26. This annual event will challenge contestants with a half-mile swim, 20 mile bike-ride, and 3.1 mile run. This year’s pre-race Pasta Party keynote speaker is Sheila Taormina, an Olympic Gold Medalist and Triathlon World champion. Race fees apply.

Rapides Parish
Lecompte Park Family Walk Night is Tuesday, Sept. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Lecompte Park Walking Trail. Families can walk the trail while listening to a disc jockey set to provide music to help walkers keep the pace.

Lessie Moore Elementary Wildcat Safari Night is Thursday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m.

Ruby-Wise Elementary Activity Night is Thursday, Sept. 23 from 5-7 p.m. Students will bring their bikes, play tetherball and volleyball.

Forest Hill Elementary Walk at the Park is Wednesday, Sept. 22, from 3-5 p.m. for students and their families.

Oak Hill Elementary Family Fun Night is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 3-7 p.m. at Oak Hill Elementary. 

Pineville Elementary School Days Stomp is Thursday, Sept. 23 from 4-6 p.m. This event is for students, their families and community members.

Trekking with the Tigers is a LSU AgCenter event that features healthy living and exercise education stations at the Alexandria Zoo. It is Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visitors can discover the number of steps from one zoo habitat to the next. Regular zoo admissions charges apply.

Fit Families for Cenla Biking Bash II will be from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, and will include bicycle safety instructions and a bicycle rodeo. All cyclists must wear helmets to the event near Lee J’s on the levee. Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields will also ride with participants. Participants will receive water bottles and bags. Helmets and $25 gift cards to Academy will be given out as door prizes.

Central Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition Picnic in the Park is Saturday, Sept. 25, from 1-4 p.m. at the Alexandria City Park. A drawing will be held for a healthy picnic basket. Coloring books that promote healthy eating tips will also be given to participants.

Vernon Parish
Get Fit Vernon Parish Exercise and Circuit Training Classes are from Monday, Sept. 20, to Thursday, Sept. 23, from 3:45-4:45 p.m. and 4:50-5:30 p.m. in Leesville High School Business Department, Room 901.

Anacoco Elementary Family Dodgeball Night is Monday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. in the gym.

Don’t Touch that Screen, Grab a Bike and Come Get Fit is Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Leesville High Parking Lot. The event will feature a bike ride behind the police.

An Organizational Walk/Run Club Meeting and a walk/run will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 22, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Walking Trail Parking Lot on Belview Road in Leesville.

Celebrating Families with Family-Friendly Cooking is a LSU AgCenter program that will teach fun and healthy ways to include the entire family in meal time preparation. It is Thursday, Sept. 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the Louisiana Lion’s Camp Cafeteria off Highway 171.
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