5K fundraiser to benefit schools’ health initiatives

5K fundraiser to benefit schools’ health initiatives

Laura and Paul Dexter are organizing a 5K “race for health” event in April, which will serve as a fundraiser for all district schools to purchase various exercise equipment and health education materials. The co-owners of Dexter Training Concepts said they hope to raise awareness about the importance of exercise and healthy eating. (Breeze photo by Brittany Ballantyne)

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The owners of Dexter Training Concepts are taking their passion for health and fitness outside the gym and onto the streets.

Paul Dexter and his wife, Laura, co-owners of the gym on Mineral Spring Avenue, are planning a 5K “race for health” event for the community in an effort to encourage school children to get active, as well as raise awareness about the importance of physical activity and eating healthy.

All the money raised from the event next April, the two explained, will be used to purchase exercise equipment and educational materials for district schools, including Whelan Elementary, the school their children attend.

“We want to give them the tools for the mind, and the tools for the body,” Paul said, adding that the funds raised will be split evenly between the nine schools in town.

Paul said he’d coordinate with the School Department, Health Equity Zone officials and members of the Health and Wellness Committee to learn what specific materials each school needs, to be used during recess or gym class.

He said the money raised from the 5K, slated to take place Sunday, April 8, could also be used to purchase educational materials students could take home to their families, or items including posters that show healthier eating alternatives to hang in school cafeterias.

Educating children about the importance of exercise and eating healthy is a personal mission for Paul, who said he was overweight as a child. Today, he said, citing research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since the 1970s. One in five school-aged children, ages 6 to 19, Paul said, citing CDC research, are considered obese. There are negative long-term effects for children who are overweight, he said, including physical, social and emotional damage.

Sticking to a healthy diet can be difficult for kids, Paul said, as their parents are the ones purchasing the foods that fill the refrigerator and cupboards.

“You want to give your kid everything they want and make them happy, but you have to think about the long-term effects,” he said, adding that there are ways to make eating healthy enjoyable for children, even fussy eaters.

The gym owner said several studies have showed school-based approaches, in terms of physical health and wellness, have proven to be the most effective, and his goal is to help schools push healthy living concepts and exercise.

“It’s a nice outlet,” he said.

The Dexters said they’re hoping the North Providence community gets involved in the 5K, a fundraiser Paul said he hopes is the first of many annual “race for health” events. More event details are still being worked out, the couple said.

While the 5K route is not finalized, Mayor Charles Lombardi and the North Providence Police Department are working out the details of a 3.2-mile route from the North Providence High School parking lot, down Mineral Spring Avenue, and through the Centredale and Fruit Hill neighborhoods.

Laura said the Dexter Training Concepts’ co-owners are happy to host and spearhead the 5K, and are looking for volunteers and individuals interested in establishing partnerships for the “race for health.”

Staff members from Dexter Training will be on site at the 5K, she said, and they’re looking for volunteers to cheer on the kids walking or running along the route.

For more information or to get involved, call the gym at 401-228-7906, or email dextertrainingconcepts1@gmail.com .