Kid-lympic Games’ held at Sparks Park next to Adams Elementary in San Antonio
Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, email@example.com
Contacts: Dr. Melinda Garcia, 210-631-0400, Melinda.firstname.lastname@example.org
Irene Flores, 210-926-9246
SAN ANTONIO – Students at elementary, middle and high school levels participated in the recent Kid-lympic Games at Sparks Park in San Antonio, taking part in age-appropriate competitive activities to emphasize physical fitness.
Sparks Park is adjacent to the Adams Elementary School campus on San Antonio’s south side.
More than 100 youth from kindergarten to fifth grade at Adams participated in games such as relay races, modified field hockey using foam tubes, a shoe toss and more. Juntos 4-H Club coordinated the games and funding was provided by New York Life and the National 4-H Council.
The games were part of the National 4-H Day of Service, a nationwide community service initiative of the National 4-H organization, organizers said. In Texas, 4-H clubs are administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, part of the Texas A&M University System.
“The National 4-H Day of Service is the culmination of a month-long series of activities by 4-H clubs throughout the nation,” said Irene Flores, Juntos 4-H club manager at Harlandale High School.
Flores said for their community service project, students from the Juntos 4-H program at Leal Middle School and Harlandale High School set up age-appropriate Olympics-inspired games for the students at Adams Elementary to get them involved in physical activity and healthful living.
“We also wanted to promote family time and help the kids develop leadership skills,” she said.
The local New York Life office also provided volunteers and set up a youth literacy and adult financial planning station at the event.
Flores said Adams Elementary is one of the “feeder” schools to Harlandale High School, which is in its second year of involvement in the Juntos 4-H program.
Melinda Garcia, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bexar County, is the Juntos 4-H program administrator.
“Many of the students involved in the Juntos 4-H program are at-risk,” Garcia said. “Juntos 4-H, which the name implies, brings people and resources together to provide Latino youth unique educational opportunities. We follow students from Leal Middle School to Harlandale High School to provide consistency and continue to encourage them.”
Garcia said a primary goal of the Juntos 4-H program is to provide educational and experiential opportunities for the youth and give them an additional support system to further inspire them to pursue higher education.
“We want them not only to finish high school, but also to attend college,” she said. “We also want to help them develop character and become good citizens, which includes giving back to the community. Our hope is that they will be eager and excited to give back what they learned at 4-H and share it with others. This event provided one of those opportunities.”
Adams Elementary principal Elizabeth Libby attended the Kid-lympics event.
“This was a great event and we’re glad the Juntos 4-H program contacted us and chose our school for it,” Libby said. “The kids were really excited to have the games here and had a good time.”
Kathy Pena, co-manager of the Juntos 4-H Club, said they chose Adams as it was also in the Harlandale Independent School District and provided the older students with an opportunity to be involved with and mentor the younger students.
“We wanted to focus on leadership and team-building skills as well as promote physical activity,” she said. “This also gives us an opportunity to tell the younger kids about 4-H and all the fun and educational things we do.”
Christina Montes, mother of Cerina Montes, 15, a freshman at Harlandale High School, was one of the parents assisting at the event.
“Cerina got involved with 4-H because she wanted to be active in the community and help motivate others to get involved,” she said. “Through the Juntos 4-H program, she got involved in public speaking and photography. One of her photos even won second place in the recent 4-H county photography competition.”
Garcia said competition is another important aspect of Juntos 4-H participation.
“When young people compete in things like this event, they learn to work together and respect one another,” she said. “And participating in competitions helps them build self-esteem and learn they can achieve the goals they set for themselves. They also learn important life skills — and the older kids serve as mentors and role models for the younger kids, showing them what’s possible when they apply themselves.”