PORT ORCHARD —It’s not often you can kick-start your fitness regimen while, at the same time, help some youngsters in an impoverished part of Africa get a decent education.
So, just how do you pull off this double-barrelled set of achievements?
According to organizer Jeff Hunnicutt, take part in the third annual Get Fit Port Orchard fitness day Saturday, May 19, this year at Cedar Heights Middle School in Port Orchard.
This community event will actively celebrate physical conditioning through a variety of fitness events from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.
At the same time, proceeds from the event will go to build and furnish a school in the Kaffrine region of the African nation of Senegal.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted from participants and those cheering on their favorite athletes.
“From running to Zumba, to soccer and more, the event will get your heart pumping and bring a smile to your face,” Hunnicutt said.
He reiterated that the Get Fit Port Orchard event’s goal is two-fold: raise the community’s awareness about the benefits of being physically active in all phases of life and help boost education in the impoverished African nation.
The public education system in Senegal has a low graduation rate, Hunnicutt said.
Private schools there have proven to nearly double the success rate but he acknowledged the lack of quality private institutions in the country hinders the chance for children to get a good education.
“Our goal over the past three-plus years has been to build and strengthen a private school in the Kaffrine region of Senegal,” Hunnicutt said.
“In a short time, we have seen the enrollment at Bethesda move from only a handful of kids to over 200, but the school is in desperate need of more resources.
“Our next aim is toward providing a new library, computer lab and shaded playground space to protect the children from 105-plus degree heat.”
The Bethesda School is an example where that group of children is getting a good education in a country where educational opportunities are sparse.
So paltry, in fact, that the public education system there suffers from a graduation rate of just below 40 percent. In contrast, the Bethesda school graduates 97 percent of its students.
Hunnicutt said he became aware of the Senegalese school after his wife took part in a mission to the nation several years ago and visited the school.
“She came back and shared her vision of how we could help the school,” he was quoted in an article in the Independent last year about the event.
“We want to see it grow and for [the children] to get a better education.”
Get Fit Port Orchard, he added, is a small effort to help guide people into a more fit lifestyle.
“Our emphasis is to build this event into a long-term event as opposed to raising a bunch of money in a short span. People can show up for one or two events, or stay for the whole day and do a whole bunch of different stuff.”