At the Summer Meals Campaign kick off, children got moving by running drills with Denver Nuggets players and NBA Fit’s strength and condidtioning coach, Steve Hess.
At the event on June 11, students assembled at the park across the street from Healing Waters Family Center, 6475 W. 29th Ave., Wheat Ridge. They were surprised by former and current professional basketball players from the Denver Nuggets, who had the children run drills in order to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.
The campaign was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooking Matters, Share Our Strength and Hunger Free Colorado.
This program is for children who rely on the free-and-reduced-lunch program during the school year, and ensures they have nutritious meals throughout the summer.
According to Ervin Johnson, retired center and a Nuggets ambassador, the team was hoping to spread the idea that it is important for children to eat right, exercise, stay fit and keep their minds sharp.
“NBA Fit believes it is very important for kids to go outside and exercise,” Johnson said. “Stop playing the video games and watching TV.”
While some of the older student participants were running drills outside, the younger children were inside getting a cooking lesson from Chef Mark DeNittis from Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi in Denver.
DeNittis showed the children how to prepare peanut butter-banana pockets. He said this is an easy meal to make, tastes good, and is packed with energy and nutrients.
“It is important for kids to know how to prepare a simple, quick, wholesome meal to provide energy,” he said.
Wheat Ridge Mayor Jerry DiTullio gave the final remarks at the event. He said Wheat Ridge was the perfect place to hold the event because the high school’s mascot is a farmer.
Besides Healing Waters, four other locations in Wheat Ridge are providing summer meals (see breakout box).
The USDA funds the meals during the summer for children under 18 years old.
The event in Wheat Ridge was only the first of a week-long schedule of kick-off events promoting the summer-meals program. Campaign sponsors also went to locations in Loveland, Colorado Springs and Salida.