Volunteers from three Holland, Mich., churches took to the streets . . . and sidewalks . . . and yards this summer to help at-risk youths keep moving and learn healthy habits.
Two days a week throughout the summer, 25 volunteers from Holland Heights Christian Reformed Church, Niekerk CRC, and Calvary Reformed Church ran WHOA!
WHOA! kids get ready to run.
WHOA! is the name teens chose for the program five years ago when it started. WHOA! is designed to help kids from kindergarten through high school stay healthy and active and make healthy food choices and use of time during the summer months.
More than 100 students attended for baseball, basketball, yoga, Tae Kwon Do, swimming, and to learn about healthy eating and body hygiene.
Participants worked toward goals to earn things like water bottles, running shoes, and backpacks.
In August, more than 60 kids ran 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) through the heart of their neighborhood, each earning a pair of tennis shoes.
“We try to expose the kids to a wide variety of activities,” said director Tracey Hoesch. “We find it is very encouraging for them when they discover new talents that they never knew they had.”
Hoesch said parents from churches joined in the program this summer, which “blended communities [and] socio-economic classes.”
“Everyone needs exercise,” said Hoesch. “It’s non-discriminatory.”