The Cherry Creek School District is changing gears to better support the health and well-being of its students, staff and community. The district is putting more emphasis on year-round health and wellness programs, instead of one-time events. That means the district will no longer host the Cherry Creek Schools Fitness Festival, allowing it to invest more time into supporting programs that benefit students, staff members and families on a daily basis.
“After 16 memorable years, the Cherry Creek School District has decided to call the 2016 Fitness Festival our last,” said Janise McNally, Wellness Coordinator for Cherry Creek Schools. “We are proud of the impact the Fitness Festival had in promoting the importance of a healthy lifestyle and supporting wellness initiatives throughout the district. We look forward to continuing to build a healthy community on the foundation laid by the Fitness Festival.”
The Fitness Festival began in 2000. It was established by First American State Bank Founder, chairman of the board and CEO Jay Davidson, and his wife Kristina, who wanted to make a meaningful contribution to their community. Out of this commitment came a 5K run, 1K family fun run, free fitness activities for the whole family, entertainment and an after-party featuring healthy food from area restaurants. Proceeds benefited the Community Asset Project of Cherry Creek Schools, a non-profit partner of the Wellness Office.
In 2013, the Davidsons gifted the event to the district and the next iteration was the Cherry Creek Schools Fitness Festival, a singular, signature component of the district’s ever-broadening Comprehensive Wellness Strategy. Around that same time, several factors began to impact the future of the Fitness Festival. For instance, the over-saturation of 5Ks in the Denver metro area created challenges to the financial stability of the event. As the focus on health grew within the district, schools began hosting their own wellness events. For example, during the past three years, almost 75% of CCSD elementary schools have held fun runs and/or 5Ks, as have many secondary schools.
“It’s difficult to let go of an event that has provided so much to our community; happy memories of families having fun together, important information about health and wellness and more than $1 million dollars in financial support over 16 years,” said Dr. Harry Bull, Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools. “But the Fitness Festival has paved the way for future wellness programming that will continue to meet the changing needs of our students, staff and families.”
Fitness Festival proceeds have provided sustainability for long-term wellness programming, such as drug/alcohol prevention, suicide prevention and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), some of which has been in place for nearly two decades. Fitness Festival funds have also served as the catalyst for significant growth in new, research-based and innovative programming focused on building social-emotional skills and resilience and promoting the physical and psychological health of our 54,700 students and 8,000 staff members.
“We believe this is where we make the biggest impact in meeting our goals of reducing barriers to learning and developing the whole child and whole employee,” McNally said. “Therefore, we want to place highest priority on further developing day-to-day wellness efforts that create lasting behavior change.”
The Cherry Creek Schools Wellness Office will continue to utilize a variety of funding sources and grants to provide wellness programming across the district. For more information about wellness in Cherry Creek Schools, www.cherrycreekschools.org/Wellness.