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Let’s MOVE Let’s REACH brings North Omaha community together for day of physical fitness and fun

Basketball tournamentTemperatures in the upper 90s Saturday, June 11 didn’t stop several hundred people from the Creighton University and Omaha communities from heading to the inaugural Let’s MOVE, Let’s REACH festival, a physical activity day sponsored by Creighton’s Department of Health Sciences Multicultural and Community Affairs and its Center for Promoting Health and Health Equality.

People of all ages gathered along historic 24th Street in North Omaha to participate in a variety of physical fitness activities like basketball, Zumba and Tai Chi. The day began with a 1-mile walk/run along 24th Street from Cuming Street to Lake Street. As R&B music played, Creighton students, staff, volunteers and community members cheered the group of runners along the route.

The inaugural Let’s MOVE, Let’s REACH event developed from a nearly $1.5 million three year grant received in 2014 by Creighton’s Center for Promoting Health and Health Equality (CPHHE) and Health Sciences Multicultural and Community Affairs (HS-MACA). The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked to reduce health disparities within the African American population.

Sade Kosoko-LasakiSade Kosoko-Lasaki, M.D., principal investigator, associate vice provost health sciences and professor of preventive medicine and public health, said Creighton University’s Center for Promoting Health and Health Equity- Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (CPHHE-REACH) program is a partnership that has joined forces with community stakeholders in Douglas County, to solve this issue. Co-investigators on the award are John Stone, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Center for Health Policy and Ethics, School of Medicine, and Jeffrey Smith, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Education.

“The fact that everyone is still smiling, even going through physical activity,” was one of the most rewarding parts of the day, said Kosoko-Lasaki.

Richard Brown, Ph.D., executive director of CPHHE-REACH, said the festival was aimed at showing everyone healthy choices are within reach and that the community has partnerships to help people lead healthy lives.

“People can take control of their own destiny, their own health,” said Brown.

Community volunteers demonstrated fun ways to get fit. With smiling faces and enthusiastic moves, one outdoor Zumba session at Dreamland Park on 24th and Erskine streets looked more like a group of friends dancing than exercising.

“We want to encourage more physical activity. We know it’s something that helps chronic disease,” Tameshia Harris, Creighton’s CPHHE-REACH program supervisor said. “We want to show people examples for simple daily physical activity.”

Josh JonesAt the George Bryant Center a few blocks south of Lake Street, youth from elementary through high school participated in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament with help from Creighton alumnus and former Bluejay basketball player Josh Jones, BA’13, and former WNBA player, Jessica Haynes, both natives of North Omaha.

The basketball courts at the Bryant Center are an important fixture in the North Omaha neighborhood. Haynes remembers playing on the same court as a child before competing at the college and professional levels.

“I love my community,” Jones said. “It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about staying active and getting fit.”

Even as the day wrapped up, signs of physical activity won’t fade in North Omaha. REACH leaders installed signs throughout the area that showed how far it would be to walk to various neighborhood destinations — it’s a 20-minute, 1-mile walk from 24th and Lake streets to Creighton’s campus. One mile walk run

Smiles, laughter and community support were abundant along 24th Street on Saturday, feeling more like a community block party than an exercise event.

That gave plenty of residents and Creighton volunteers and organizers plenty of heart for making the REACH event an annual tradition going forward.

“The day’s about having a lot of community involvement and participation, reducing health disparity, and having fun,” Mervin Vasser, assistant director of HS-MACA, said. “The Let’s MOVE Let’s REACH was an extraordinary display of cooperation, commitment, and strong support of each other as members of HS-MACA, and our community.”

Let’s MOVE, Let’s REACH was sponsored by American Heart Association, Center Trophy, CHI Health, Creighton Athletics, CPHHE, HS-MACA, Crown Trophy, Genua Consulting,Heartland B-Cycle, Hy-Vee, McCarthy Building Companies Inc., McDonald’s, Olive Garden, Planet Fitness, and Raising Cane’s.

REACH event runners

 

 

Event partners were 100 Black Men of Omaha, Butler-Gast YMCA, Charles Drew Health Center, Collective for Youth, Creighton School of Medicine, Douglas County Health Department, Nebraska Center for Healthy Families, and Omaha Housing Authority.

 

 

 

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