published Friday, May 17th, 2013

Hundreds gather at Finley Stadium for Kiddie Olympics

Journee Harris, left, and Mysiah Jackson race on bouncing balls while competing in the Kiddie Olympics at Finley Stadium on Thursday.
Journee Harris, left, and Mysiah Jackson race on bouncing balls while competing in the Kiddie Olympics at Finley Stadium on Thursday.
Photo by Dan Henry.

Preschoolers in blue and green and yellow T-shirts spilled onto the artificial turf, wiggling and grooving to "Everybody Dance Now" playing over the loudspeakers.

More than 200 3- to 6-year-olds gathered at Finley Stadium on Thursday to take part in Chattanooga's first Kiddie Olympics.

"The goal is to fight childhood obesity with awareness, physical activity and good nutrition," said Dr. Andre Hardy, a local physician and one of the event's organizers.

The kids were broken up into smaller groups who traveled around the field, visiting each sport station. There was tug-of-war, sack racing, a 20-yard dash, a tricycle race and many more events designed to get the kids up and moving.

The Kiddie Olympics was founded by former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football player Derrick McLendon, who started the organization in Atlanta with his wife, Catrenia.

"This is the largest awareness event for childhood obesity in the country for this age -group," McLendon said.

He said the Kiddie Olympics is much more than an annual event -- it's a curriculum that schools and centers can incorporate into their daily routines to promote childhood fitness.

"Fit kids make fit adults," he said. "It's important you start a healthy lifestyle early on."

Richetta Franklin was busy shepherding her group of 18 kids, contentedly slurping their grape Capri Suns.

"This is awesome," she said. "I'm so glad they came and invited us to participate."

Franklin, lead teacher at 21st Century Child Development Center Inc., said the center is working on incorporating the Kiddie Olympics fitness plan into its curriculum.

"We'll definitely be back for next year's event," she said.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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