In Wisconsin, the rate of obesity has doubled in the last 15 years. The Wisconsin State Journal discusses the epidemic in a recent article, and notes that Madison is one of the healthier areas of the state. One of the reasons for Madison's healthier situation? The city has beautiful parks scattered all over town, and park use includes more exercise opportunities.
Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) saw a need in the youth community for more physical activity, and decided to use the parks to encourage more movement. With this in mind, they launched the Fit2Go program in 2013. The program connects area parks with a mobile fitness kit. A large van is packed with toys and equipment to make fitness fun. The decorated van travels all over the city, and makes stops at area parks, with special emphasis on parks without playgrounds. The van typically travels to two different locations each day.
One recent day I found them at Olbrich Beach. Olbrich Beach is a beautiful park, but it does not have a playground. Fit2Go arrived to fill that gap. The two employees set up an obstacle course, put out a disc golf net, and set up some extra large foam construction tools. Kids in the area were encouraged to join the fun and be creative.
"Some days we're here alone, and other days it's non-stop playtime," said one of the employees. "We have to let people know that this is a free service and open to the public. Once they know this, the families jump right in!"
Three girls ran the course, which included cones, a rope ladder and some items to leap over. Two boys found the foam blocks, and began building an imaginary machine. All were engaged, moving and having a great time.
"This is what we want. We want kids to play, to experiment with the toys, and to have another reason to stay active," an employee said.
The Fit2Go schedule is posted on the MSCR website. In addition, they can be rented for private parties, or invited to come to other public events. The current summer schedule runs through August 9. Fit2Go is one of many activities provided by MSCR. Check out their website to learn more about their plans to keep Madison healthy and fit.