NORWALK, Conn. Kids ran, threw, hopped, hula-hooped and most importantly, burned calories, at the first annual jamboree hosted by the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy Wednesday at Norwalk High School. About 500 children from community organizations in Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich and Bridgeport participated in games and activities to learn about healthy lifestyles.
"This is unbelievable,'' said Fairfield County Sports Commission president Harry Peden, whose organization started the Chelse Cohen Fitness Academy. "When (executive director) Tom Chiappetta said there would be 500 kids here, I didn't believe it. For me, getting involved in this is a no-brainer. I'm a kid myself."
Kids tried their skills at throwing baseballs and footballs, kicking soccer balls, played a miniature soccer game and participated in fitness activities, such as the crab walk and push-ups. The whole idea was to learn about healthy lifestyles. Some top athletes from Fairfield County signed autographs and helped the children.
"I was so excited when Tom called me and asked if I would be available,'' said Greenwich's Sue Merz, who won a gold medal in 1998 with the U.S. Women's Hockey team. "This is a great event and it's for a good cause."
Merz was among the local celebrities who attended the jamboree. Stamford's Bobby Valentine signed autographs along with Norwalk boxer Travis Simms and Bridgeport's Wes Matthews, a former NBA player. Football player Kevin Pierre-Louis, a linebacker at Boston College, assisted at a football throwing station. Merz was impressed by the turnout and the range of activities in which kids could engage.
"It's not your typical run, kick and throw events,'' Merz said. "There's a little bit of everything. It's wonderful to get kids experiencing different things."
Kids from the George Washington Carver Center and the Recreation and Parks in Norwalk, the Stamford YMCA , Boys and Girls Club of Stamford, and the Yerwood Center in Stamford and the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club participated in the jamboree.
A number of community businesses displayed educational materials and had representatives speak about nutrition and offer tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. The Fairfield County Sports Commission created the Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy last year, and Wednesday's event was its first big event.
"Chelsea was someone who tried to squeeze as much as she could out of life every day,'' Peden said. "This is a wonderful tribute to her. For a first year event, it has gone really well. We're happy with the turnout."
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