By BOB SMITH
Kitsap News Group
PORT ORCHARD — By taking part in Get Fit Port Orchard, you’ll not only generate some heart-healthy activity for yourself, you just might help a young person in Africa get a better education.
If that seems a strange dichotomy, a little explanation is due. For the second year, South Colby Elementary in Port Orchard will host a fitness day for area residents May 6 with the intent of promoting healthy living, no matter their age. A plethora of athletic events and activities will take place at the school from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day, enough to intrigue just about any person interested in improving their lifestyle.
Jeff Hunnicut, an event volunteer, said soccer, karate, Zumba exercising, a 5K walk/run event and yoga instruction will be available for children, active middle-agers and older seniors. Admission is free, although Hunnicut said donations will be accepted to benefit a private elementary school in the African nation of Senegal.
The Bethesda School in the Kaffrine region of Senegal, he said, is a shining example where about 200 children are getting a good education in a country where educational opportunities are sparse — so paltry that the public education system there suffers from a graduation rate just below 40 percent. Hunnicut said the Bethesda School proudly graduates 97 percent of its students.
He first became aware of the Senegalese school after his wife took part in a mission to the African nation and learned about the school.
“She came back and shared her vision of how we could help the school. We want to see it grow and for (the children) to get a better education.”
Last year, the Get Fit Port Orchard event raised $2,000 to help build more classrooms and furnish them through an admission charge. This year, he said, there is no admission to the event, but donations would be appreciated. “We’re hoping to have more participants show up, with the hope that the donations will rise significantly,” Hunnicut said.
While the event will generate funds for the school in Senegal, the volunteer said the Get Fit Port Orchard event primarily is to help raise the community’s awareness about being active physically in all phases of life.
It’s another effort, albeit different, to help initiate a better life — through physical activity of the people in Port Orchard.
“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,” Hunnicut said.
About 120 people took part in Get Fit Port Orchard last year.