July 5, 2006 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Between the baseball, swimming, climbing and food, 50 kids in Wayne County recently learned an important lesson -- health rocks.

Health Rocks was a weeklong day camp for children ages 9 through 13. But this particular day camp was less about making crafts and playing games than it was about learning to make healthy choices. 

“The whole objective of this camp is physical activity and nutrition,” said Georgia Burton, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agent for family and consumer sciences in Wayne County and one of the organizers of the event.

The camp was the result of a grant received by the Wayne County Growing Healthy Kids Coalition. The coalition is made up of local agencies whose purpose is to reach the public with information about good nutrition and physical activity. 

Kathryn Tucker, director of dietetics at Wayne County Hospital and chair of the coalition, was one of the planners and a teacher during the five-day camp. She said the grant will go a long way in spreading important information to those who need it.

“Just to be able to do a big project, to get the kids involved, get the kids to know we’re out here, get the parents to know the importance of healthy living, exercise and activity and prevention of diabetes is our biggest focus right now.”

Each day’s schedule balanced physical activity such as softball, walks, indoor rock climbing, basketball and swimming with lessons on the food guide pyramid and making healthier choices at fast food restaurants.

“Each day we’re talking about a different group on the food guide pyramid,” Tucker said. “We’re trying to concentrate on a different fast food restaurant each day. We let them look through books (containing nutrition information). … That way they can actually see the different things that are available.”

After only one day the children were responding positively to the new choices, she said. Before camp, a lot of them were choosing large burgers and biggie-sizing everything. 

“Yesterday it was ‘this is what I want.’ Today it’s different. They’re picking some different items,” Tucker said.

The camp is just one example of Wayne County Extension’s partnership with other community groups in order to empower the county’s youth and set them on course for a healthy, satisfying life.

“Extension has the organizational skills and the leadership skills to be a good partner in all our coalitions in Wayne County,” Burton said. “We are involved in about 10 coalitions. We have many projects going on. But we all work as partners. And our whole community and our schools have been oriented to doing that probably now for about 10 years. So we get along well and we get a lot more done by being able to work together.”

This year’s camp was supported by the efforts of local agencies such as the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Wayne County Hospital, Wayne County Health Department, local family resource centers, the Aspire Center and Wayne County Summer Food Service. It was made possible through a diabetes translation project grant from Marshall University that was administered by the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.


Georgia Burton, 606 348-8453