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Wellness Expo promotes healthy lifestyles
Junior League event combats childhood obesity
Savannah Faulkner works on a paper smile at the Wilson orthodontics booth. - photo by Tom Reed

The Junior League's first annual Wellness Expo got an enthusiastic reception at the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids on Sunday.

More than 30 sponsors came out to teach children and adults the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, from how to make quick and easy snacks to personal hygiene and fun ways to exercise. INK boasts a extensive indoor village, including a grocery store, where the kids learned how to pick out the right foods, and a hair salon specializing in colorful updos.

Co-organizers Mandy Bangs and Shelley Davis were pleased with the turnout.

"We've got chefs from local restaurants and food donations, doctors, orthodontists," said Bangs.

Each vendor had information for the parents and trinkets for the children. Each child wore a paper inkspot passport with the mission of gathering 15 stamps from different vendors. A prize was offered for collecting the stamps.

"Things are fabulous. We have beautiful weather and it's a great, fun event. Childhood obesity has become such an epidemic that we felt we needed to do an outreach program on how to stay active and be healthy," said Bangs.

The expo didn't just target children; several activities for parents were also included.

"There's a couponing booth where parents can learn how to get the most for their money, including the fresh fruits and vegetables," said Davis. "There's also Cooking Matters and Shopping Matters. They teach families how to cook and shop for healthy foods."

Davis said she hoped families would take away an overall wellness attitude.

Heather Morris and daughter Olivia found out about the expo through the school system.

"We came out for a little mother-daughter time," said Morris. "Some of the cooking stuff has been pretty cool."
Olivia said her favorite activity was the salon.

"The coolest thing I learned today was the difference between candy and medicine," said Morris.

Jennifer Spencer and her family were equally impressed.

"I like it. The kids seem to enjoy it, too. The fitness activities were fun," said Spencer. "They're engaging the children. We'd definitely come back."

Davis says plans are already in the works for next year's event.

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