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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA marathon promotes children’s fitness, health

The UA is hosting a marathon on Saturday to promote physical activity for young children.

The Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health will host the Tucson Marathon Family Fitness Fest Saturday on the UA Mall.

The event will hold a series of mini marathons including a one-mile kids’ run, a 5K run and a 10K run.

The event is in its third year and has doubled in size from when it was first held, with 1,300 people expected to attend this year, according to Pam Reed, director and founder of the event. The marathon will accommodate runners of all abilities, including those who use wheelchairs and walkers.

The College of Public Health provided 500 kids with free entry to the marathon, Reed said.

“We wanted to introduce children to running,” Reed said, “as well as introduce the community to the UA campus and school and ultimately promote health and wellness in their lives.”

The fitness fest will focus on the kids’ fun run to promote physical activity in young children, said Cynthia Thomson, director of Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion and a professor of Public Health.

Thomson said children who are physically active perform better in school, are less likely to be overweight, have more energy and are generally happier.

The marathon was piloted in 2011 on a small scale, but Canyon Ranch Center wanted a key event every year to promote wellness in kids, so it added the kids’ run, Thomson said.

A major focus this year was getting under-served school districts involved. The Tucson Medical Center, a lead sponsor, is funding transportation for students from different schools and school districts, including Sunnyside Unified School District, Amphitheater High School and the South Tucson community.

“A lot of people grow up in Tucson and they never come to the U of A campus,” Thomson said. “It’s kind of a foreign land to them.”

Other organizations partnering with the center include the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the YMCA of Southern Arizona.

Kids who participate in the fun run will receive an official marathon T-shirt and a medal for completing the race.

Wilbur and the cheerleading team will also be at the event, as well as vendors promoting health and wellness like Beyond Bread, Grow 2B Fit Foundation and the UA Student Recreation Center.

“In order to be a vendor at the event, they had to be promoting healthy living and wellness in children.” Thomson said. “Each booth has to have some interactive activity with kids around health and wellness.”

The center wanted to get involved in a community-based effort that supported kids’ well-being and bring kids to campus so they can be inspired and see what a wonderful place it could be for them in the future, Thomson said.

“We really want people, and especially children, to realize that [the] UA is a fun and friendly place,” Thomson said, “so that when they are making decisions about their future, college is not intimidating.”

Tucson Marathon Family Fitness Fest
Saturday, registration starts at 7:30 a.m.
On the UA Mall

– Follow Adriana Espinosa @adri_eee

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