Getting involved in the community is always an excellent choice to make.
However, when the community cause is benefiting the men and women of tomorrow, that choice can be one that has good, long-lasting effects on the lives of multiple people.
On Saturday, The Counseling Center, along with Compass Community Health, are joining forces to create that kind of atmosphere, as the organizations will hold The Counseling Center’s Ninth Annual Natural High 5k at Earl Thomas Conley Park (Riverside Park) in West Portsmouth on Saturday.
For Gina Collinsworth, director of community relations and development at Compass Community Health and The Counseling Center, Inc., the ability to hold a 5k, along with the fitness events that follow, is one that has wide-ranging effects across multiple platforms.
“It has an added benefit in our area because we are all trying to find ways to engage the community in healthy activities,” Collinsworth said. “We added the Fitness Festival a couple of years ago because then it would attract more people that are not just interested in running or walking, but could do some of the other activities such as yoga or IronBody Fitness.”
By engaging the community in health activities, Compass and The Counseling Center are also benefiting the kids. In fact, the Summer Outreach Club, which is held at the 14th Street Community Center in Portsmouth and is entirely free of charge to those who participate, routinely attracts 100 at-risk children every year. Those at-risk children receive instruction, social interaction, breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snake for six hours a day, five days a week.
“The kids aren’t necessarily disadvantaged, but they’re at-risk, and one of the main things is food insecurity,” Collinsworth said. “So for their summer outreach program, there’s breakfast, lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack because they’re there from 9:30 a.m. to 3:3o p.m. Monday through Friday. That’s six hours a day of great programming through the community partnerships that are available. They’re mentoring the kids, they’re teaching the kids pottery and how to make food that’s healthy and nutritious, and they’re reading with the kids. Then they’ll go swimming, visit art museums, or go to libraries.”
What’s better than that, you ask? The outreach club, which is in its 28th year of operation, is free of charge to the youth who need it — thanks to the continued efforts from those around the area.
“It’s such a wonderful program, and it’s totally free,” Collinsworth said. “The only reason that it is free for all of our wonderful kids is because of the community support that we see at these kinds of fundraising events like our Natural 5k. If we didn’t have these events that the community could come out, have fun, and support with all of their fundraising efforts, the kids would miss out on all of the days where they’ve had instruction. It’s a great program.”
As for Saturday events — which, in addition to the 5k, includes IronBody Fitness, outdoor yoga, and cardio drumming — Collinsworth hopes that they’ll give individuals a strong outlook on life and how to live it.
“A lot of our programming and a lot of the posters that we put in the community for the event have a big message on them that says, ‘Live Drug Free,’” Collinsworth said. “So as far as prevention activities go, we want people to have a natural high and live drug free, especially the youth. We felt that this event appealed to the younger generation, and we want to get the message out there that there are a lot of great ways to have fun and be able to enjoy feeling good without having to use drugs.”
Registration for the event is scheduled for 7 a.m. at Riverside Park. The 5k begins at 8 a.m., while fitness classes, which include the IronBody, cardio drumming, and outdoor yoga workouts, will start at 9:30 a.m.
The cost of the 5k is $15, while the fitness classes are $10. T-shirts will be sold during the 5k, and free popcorn, water, and additional refreshments will be available throughout the day.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7