Expo to kick off focus on kids' fitness

Looking for a fun, free way to teach children about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise? Visit the Fit for the Future Expo on Saturday in downtown Modesto.

Starting its second year, Fit for the Future is a countywide healthy lifestyle campaign coordinated by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.

At Saturday's expo, children can play on an obstacle course, get fitness assessments, create edible art from fruits and vegetables, visit information booths and watch a 45-minute interactive play, "The Best Me."

The show, put on by Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Group, starts at 10 a.m. and uses audience participation, comedy, drama, music and dance to promote healthy eating and active living, according to the county office of education.

"We're trying to advance our efforts this year, to help get the community involved," County Superintendent Tom Changnon said. "We want the families within the community to take part in the fitness of our county's students."

During the yearlong Fit for the Future program, students in the county's public schools sign up for the Governor's Challenge, which calls on them to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week over a 28-day period. Last year, the county's schoolchildren logged 1 million "active days."

Kaiser is a major partner in Fit for the Future, donating the money to pay for prizes throughout the school year for students at schools with high participation rates in the Governor's Challenge.

Stanislaus County was named the challenge's County of the Year for 2008-09 by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Although last year's Fit for the Future focused on exercising, this year's efforts will center on nutrition.

"We want to get together with school cafeteria workers and school nutrition specialists to find ways to get menus and diets healthy for young people," Changnon said.

"Nutrition plays an important role in student learning."

The Fit for the Future Expo goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Petersen Event Center, 720 12th St. For more information on Fit for the Future, visit

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at or 578-2339. Read Hatfield's education blog at