By Tamas Mondovics

It was all about health and wellness at Lithia Springs Elementary School last month, as students, parents, teachers and staff gathered to enjoy a night of fitness, healthy food and, of course, a whole lot of fun.

In response to the growing rate of childhood obesity and to promote health and wellness, school officials, led by the Lithia Springs elementary School PTA, decided to host its first annual Family Fitness Night.

Event organizer, Erin Hardy, explained that the goal for the evening was to get families to participate together in a fun-filled, fitness-focused environment and to do it all on a Tuesday night.

“I tried to use the movie Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come,” concept,” Hardy said. “I also figured free food might do the trick.”

After months of planning, students, parents, faculty and staff were treated to an evening full of good food and good music with the focus on beneficial information from local health and wellness businesses, accompanied by close to two hours of sweat-producing live fitness classes.

Hardy said that in a spirited competition, the children attempted to outlast the adults through Kickboxing, taught by LSES bilingual school psychologist Daniella Maglione, an energy-packed KidFit class led by FAHPERDS 2012 Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Coach Nancy Nowakowski, as well as a stress-relieving, balance-challenging yoga session with a talented local mom, Kitty Cannon.

For all of their hard work, attendants were treated to a free buffet boasting an array of healthy foods including homemade white chicken chili,  black bean and corn salsa, an assortment of lean meats with whole grain flat bread, salad and baked potato bar, fruits and vegetables and low-fat Greek yogurt and graham crackers for dessert. Gatorade graciously donated the drinks.

“Sodas or fried foods were not part of this gathering,” Hardy said, adding that by the end of it all, it seemed that some children truly were little balls of energy.”

Organizers were especially thankful for area business representatives such as TNT Smoothies and Supplements, Weight Watchers, Ed Murray with Murray Fitness Solutions, Urban Beat Dance, River Hills Country Club, Cora Simon, a health coach with Take Shape for Life and JuicePlus+, Urban Kai Standup Paddleboarding, and Girls on the Run, who were willing to join the festivities by educating the participants on wellness-related pursuits available locally,

While the event was not considered a fundraiser, raffle tickets were distributed for donations of new or gently used books to benefit Ester D. Burney Elementary, a sister school, and canned goods for the Salvation Army of Hillsborough County.

Raffle prizes included Paddleboarding Fitness Classes, two Personal Training Sessions with Ed Murray, a $100 Gift Certificate to Urban Beat Dance, a Weight Watchers Gift Bag, a Round of Golf for four at River Hills Country Club, a Variety of Golf Clubs, 2 Golf Bags and 10 one-month Full Family Memberships to the Campo YMCA.

“With nearly 200 people in attendance, the evening was considered a great success,” Hardy said.

For more information about Lithia Springs Elementary School and upcoming events, please visit the school’s website at


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