By Jessica Brodie
ROCK HILL—Rain thrummed against the roof and sloshed through the parking lot outside St. John’s United Methodist Church. But all that water didn’t dampen the festive mood inside, as hundreds of people from the community and beyond gathered to embrace Abundant Health through hula-hooping, dance-fitness, health booths and more.
On April 7, in Rock Hill as well as in New York, Berlin and locations throughout Zimbabwe, United Methodists gathered for the denomination’s Hulapalooza, a morning dedicated to embracing health and wellness—and the kickoff for the Abundant Health Initiative in South Carolina and across the globe. The April 7 date was planned to coincide with World Health Day.
“It went great,” said Jenifer Crawford, director of Christian education at St. John’s, who helped organize the Rock Hill event with member and dietician Lacy Ngo. “I heard lots of positive comments, and people loved being able to take home the hula hoops. It was fun!”
At the Rock Hill event, participants got the chance to decorate hula hoops, then got tips and tricks on how to use them, as well as learned aerobics and line dancing from two local teachers—one aged 80. They also got to play hula hoop games, visit booths about fitness and healthy eating, do spinal screenings and blood pressure checks, and much more.
Denise Hadley, who lives in the area, saw the signs and took her two younger kids to Hulapalooza.
“I think it’s great,” Hadley said, watching her kids race around with a roomful of children and adults enjoying everything from a bounce house to a hoop jump.
Hadley said it’s critical that kids—and adults—understand the importance of staying fit and active. She said her oldest son, now 23, was a hermit who stayed in his room playing video games when he was young, “But not these kids. They’re always active between dance and baseball … always something.”
Thanks to Hulapalooza, she hopes they’ll also understand why it’s important to stay active through out their lives, not just while they’re young.
Cailey Barnes brought her two children to the event so they could understand health on a new level.
“My oldest son is always on the spectrum of being overweight versus not, so I really wanted him to know the importance of being fit and that being fit is also fun, not ‘Aw, I don’t want to do it,’” Barnes said.
A preschool teacher, Barnes also got on the floor to show the room her own hoop skills, winning the adult hoop contest and even out-hooping many of the kids.
Debbie Ngo, who brought her two grandkids, ages 4 and 10, to the event, said much the same.
“It’s great to make people more aware of health issues and how ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean you have to be just sitting in a gym all the time,” Ngo said. “You can be creative.”
The kids seemed to appreciate the chance for creative fitness fun.
Dylan, 11, said he already knew how to hula hoop, but he learned some new skills that day—like how to hula hoop around his neck.
“It’s fun to be healthy. I think most people should know more about it. There are kids I know who sit down on the couch for five hours and watch a show with a big bag of chips!” Dylan said. “If you’re fit and healthy, you can do more, and you have more energy and stuff, and you can run around. For me, I love climbing trees, and you can’t do that if you’re not healthy and strong.”
For more on the Abundant Health Initiative of the UMC, as well as Hulapalooza events around the world, visit www.umcabundanthealth.org.