Thu, 15 April, 2010

Kids, adults urged to participate in Turnoff Week, April 19-25

For most people, watching TV, sending e-mails from cell phones, browsing the Internet and playing video games during the day are routine. But these habits are also unhealthy because time spent in front of a screen is a leading cause of obesity in adults and children. 

Through grants funded by The Rapides Foundation, Central Louisiana organizations, communities and schools are stepping away from screens for one week and sponsoring healthy activities for adults and children. School districts receiving grants are Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn.

April 19-25 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.

“We especially want children to participate in Turnoff Week because of the increase in obesity levels in younger-aged children,” said Joe Rosier, president and chief executive officer of The Rapides Foundation. “We know this may be a difficult challenge, but we would like to encourage everyone to try to limit their screen time and do something to get moving.” Suggestions for screen-free activities can be found on

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 Cenla schools are sponsoring family fitness nights and evening health fairs. Others are holding Family Walk Nights where students and their families will walk for 30 minutes or longer on school tracks. They include Hayden R. Lawrence Upper Elementary, Nachman Elementary, Forest Hill Elementary, Hadnot-Hayes Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary and Pineville Elementary in Rapides Parish; Georgetown Elementary in Grant Parish; Natchitoches Magnet and Provencal Elementary in Natchitoches Parish; and Elizabeth High School and Reeves High School in Allen Parish.

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

Allen Parish
The Health Enrichment Network Downtown Walk & Talk is a walk around downtown Oakdale without your cell phone during your lunch break. It starts at noon on Tuesday, April 20, at Oakdale City Hall.
Unplugged Now & THEN, an event with sports and games, is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Health Enrichment Network Wellness and Aquatic Center, Oakdale.
The Elizabeth High School Community Gathering will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Finke Park and features musical entertainment provided by local choruses.
The Oberlin Baptist Church Primetime Gathering, a family night of games, healthy snacks and physical activity tips, will be from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the church.

Grant Parish
South Grant Elementary Family Night is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday and features a 1950s theme, including a sock hop, hula hoops, a book fair and board games.

Natchitoches Parish
The Louisiana School 10K and Half-Marathon, held on Saturday, April 17, kicked off Turnoff Week in Natchitoches Parish. The event began at 8 a.m. at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts gymnasium.
Jump Start Your Fitness in Your Community Parks is a City of Natchitoches program designed to motivate community members to use community parks to meet their fitness needs and goals. The 6-7 p.m. sessions will at McCain Park on Monday, New Airport Road Park on Tuesday and Manning Park on Wednesday.
NSU Lady Demons softball will promote Turnoff Week at their game on Wednesday, April 21. Kids up to eighth grade enter free with a canned good and special ticket. Community admission is $3 plus canned good or $6. Healthy concessions and Smoothie King items will be available.
NSU Elementary Lab School Spring Fever 5K Run/Walk will be Saturday, April 24, beginning at 7:45 a.m. at the NSU Elementary Lab School. The race-day cost is $20 for the 5K and $15 for a 1-mile run/walk.
Cane River Green Market will have fresh produce available as well as a City of Natchitoches parish-wide community clean-up, reading on the river children’s program, group fitness and healthy snacks from Get Fit Natchitoches on Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 

Rapides Parish
Fit for Families for Cenla Biking Bash will be from 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 24, and will include bicycle safety instructions and a bicycle rodeo. All cyclists must wear helmets to the event at the Alexandria Public Boat Ramp. 

Vernon Parish
Downtown Leesville Community Walk will begin at 7 a.m. Monday at the Farmer’s Market.
Exercise Classes. A whole body workout will be at 4 p.m. on April 19, 20, 21, and 22 at Leesville High School, Business Department, Room 901.
Walk the Walking Trail on Belview Road at 5:30 p.m. on April 19, 21 and 22. 
Moms, Babies and Strollers is a family walk that begins at 5 p.m. on Monday in front of the Leesville High School Gym.
The Six-on-Six Volleyball Tournament will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the Leesville High School Gym. Get a team together or play on a pickup team.
Salsa Class will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Leesville High School Upper Cafeteria.
Taekwondo Class will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Leesville High School Annex Gym.
A Kickball Game will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday behind the Leesville High School Gym.
Stepping Class will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Leesville High School Annex Gym. 
Three-on-three Basketball Tournament will be at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Leesville High School Gym. Get a team together or play on a pickup team.
Advanced Hip-Hop Class will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Leesville High School Upper Cafeteria.
Water Balloon Games will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Leesville High School Track. Water balloons will be provided.
The Leesville Fun-Run/5K will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 24, at the Post Office.


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