SWANTON — Saturday had the best weather thus far of the spring. A half dozen boats, lazed on the Missisquoi just below the dam, lines in the water, waiting for a bite. Less than two miles away at John Raleigh III Memorial Field, nearly 200 adults and children milled excitedly on the green grass. They were dressed in white T-shirts, shorts and running shoes — prepared for a warm, colorful day.
At the sound of a whistle they rushed down the Swanton Recreation Path toward several teams with pails loaded with colorful chalk. By the time they finished the two-mile course, their white shirts were died orange, blue, and purple. Their smiles and heavy breathing signaled the end to the beginning of Swanton’s Wellness Week.
The second annual Color Run was a hit among the children and adults who ran and those who facilitated it. Kelly Connolly and her daughter, Taylor, a sophomore at Missisquoi Valley Union high school, said that they ran last year. But they “thought it would be fun to color the kids this year,” Kelly said. Indeed, they could hardly contain their laughter as they doused the first few boys with blue chalk.
The Color Run is a collaborative effort involving the Swanton Recreation department and the PTO, which use the funds raised to fund field trips and promote health in the community. As the inaugural event of this year’s wellness week, it did a good job raising awareness of the upcoming activities.
Organizer Sara McGuire said the event is about promoting wellness and an active lifestyle. “We tried to show our community that we can be healthy and have fun doing it. This event is a great kickoff for Fit and Healthy Week and we really hope it will help make our community a healthier, happier place.”
Since the Color Run took place on Green Up Day, it seems appropriate to note that all of the chalk is biodegradable.
On Tuesday students participated in Jump Rope for Heart, a nationwide event sponsored by the American Heart Association. Today at 6 p.m. is the Bike Rodeo where students will learn bike safety and navigate an obstacle course. Kids will close wellness week with a smoothie bar and a Zumba class. The kids are also encouraged to keep a log of their “screen time” and work to reduce it over the week. Prizes will be awarded to the parents and students who track their healthy behaviors and turn in a chart at the end of the week.
The Color Run was sponsored by Jaz Entertainment, which provided music for the kids as they played and ate following the run.
Susan Collins, a retired teacher and librarian at Swanton School ran in the Color Run. “I always told my kids you don’t ever give up! But boy am I whooped,” she said. “Swanton Recreation does so much for our community; they just do a wonderful job. I came out today to support them and I hope more people will come out to help!”
Collins is a member of Swanton Enhancement’s outdoor recreation task force.
School board member Mary Wood was in attendance, handing out apples and bottles of water to red-faced, laughing children after the run.
“Wellness week is a 10-year-old event that was started a long time ago with a grant to promote fit and healthy schools,” she said. “It’s really grown a lot since then and the Color Run is one of our most successful events. This isn’t just about the kids though, it’s about raising awareness about the importance of our entire community being healthy and active.”
Indeed, it seems to be working. According to McGuire, more adults participated than children. And at $25 per adult and $15 per kid, the fundraiser will surely help advance wellness in Swanton.