Keiki with parents in tow cruised through a myriad of hands-on activities learning the importance of growing up and living healthy Saturday during the Waimea Healthy KeikiFest.
From safe bicycle riding and crosswalk use to eating nutritious foods and exercising, each of the free, family friendly festival’s 38 booths at Parker Ranch Center provided information pertaining to both young and old.
Eight-year-old Maleah Adams was just one of the scores of kids, ages 3 to 12, working to fill her passport with stickers to earn prizes such as face painting, balloons and a metal, reusable water bottle. Her favorite booth was North Hawaii Community Hospital where volunteers used “fake” germs and lighting to show kids proper hand-washing techniques.
“It’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s helping kids by making them make better choices to be healthy.”
Nonprofit Tutu’s House holds the event annually to promote safe and healthy living to children and families on the Big Island, said Sharnell Kalahiki, event coordinator. The five-hour festival attracts about 300 kids plus their families each year.
“It does good for our community, especially for the kids because they know it’s all about them — it’s their day,” she said, noting the theme for the event this year was “Honoring our Bodies, Honoring Ourselves.”
To get kids really involved, Kalahiki said the event uses the passport that requires keiki to earn stickers in each of six categories: nutrition, health, fitness, environment, safety and mind. Many of the booths also had goodies and trinkets children received for successfully completing an activity.
Some of the games and activities kids had to take part in to earn stickers they could trade in for goodies included Zumba and CrossFit exercises, Hula-Hoop and limbo, kicking a soccer ball, pledging never to do meth, and learning about fat and sugar content in everyday foods.
Waimea resident Jason Ray, who brought his children, Keila, 2, and Isaac, 8, has attended the free event three consecutive years now. He most appreciates the event’s ability to bring people together and disseminate a lot of information that not only pertains to the youngsters, but also to adults.
“It’s a really good community fun event that’s really educational and provides good things kids should know about,” he said, noting he always visits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers booth to learn what ordnance-removal activities are taking place in the area and near his home.
The festival, now in its 14th year, is organized by Tutu’s House, a project of Friends of the Future, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that facilitates community-led change, perpetuates cherished cultural anchors and improves health-related quality of life for those who live, work and play on Hawaii Island.