What the kids are saying

By Mike Grimala

LAS VEGAS—It’s almost impossible to get kids to enjoy going to school on a Saturday, so the Desert Reign Foundation must be doing something right.

More than 140 children took part in Desert Reign’s Sports and Nutrition Camp on Saturday, October 18 at Ollie Detwiler Elementary School, and they all left with smiles on their faces after a morning of fun through exercise.

The camp, which was organized by Desert Reign in conjunction with the United Way of Southern Nevada and the Young Philanthropists Society, was aimed at kids from the local Las Vegas community and open to grades 1-through-5th.

The action kicked off with stretching and a group Zumba session, after which the kids broke off into four groups. From there, they rotated through exercise stations, from typical workout activities like push-ups and resistance training to more recreational playground games like foursquare and foot races.

There was also a station where kids were able to learn about nutrition and maintaining healthy eating habits.

The Desert Reign Foundation has been organizing sports nutrition camps since 2008. Most of the children at the Oct. 18th camp said they were looking forward to going to more Desert Reign events in the future.

“It’s good that we get to do a lot of exercises,” said Marisol, a fifth-grader who was participating in her second Desert Reign camp. “My cousin and my sister are here too. We all want to do it again.”

More than 30 volunteers from Nike town Forum Shops, Lucille S Rogers ES, Southwest Behavior, Ollie Detwiler ES, R Guild Gray ES, and Decker ES worked to put on the event, guiding the children through their activities and teaching them about healthy diets.

Jaimee Galloway, a fifth-grade teacher at Lucille S. Rogers Elementary school here in Las Vegas, served as the camp’s director.

“I just love that we’re able to teach kids about health and fitness,” said Galloway, who has been a volunteer for the Desert Reign Sports and Nutrition Camps for five years. “They do take in the information. They really listen to what we teach them about healthy eating habits, and being active and exercising every day.”

The event was effective in large part because it was tailored for children. Many of the stations were interactive, allowing the kids to have fun with their peers while exercising.

“When I first got here I was nervous,” said Deontay, a second-grader who was participating for the first time. “Then we started doing fun stuff and exercising and it was fun.”

Victor, a fifth-grader participating for the third time, was one of a small handful of children to reach level 60 on the pacer run, an exercise that combines speed, conditioning and endurance.

“[The camp is] really good,” said Victor. “Everybody is exercising and it’s fun, too. I made it to 60 on the pacer run, so that was pretty cool.”

The Desert Reign Foundation will host 17 more sports nutrition camps during the 2014-15 school year and Galloway hopes the program will expand even further in the future.

“I’d really like to see the program expand to more schools,” she said. “It’s hard to eat healthy on a budget, so informing students about healthy eating is even more important. I also like being able to provide kids with the opportunity to be involved in an extracurricular activity like this.”

Like all of the participants, Galloway felt the Oct. 18th event was a huge success.

“We’re teaching good things,” she said. “Fitness, being healthy, having fun. I think we’re showing them how exercise can be fun, and they’re having fun. The kids love it.”