Healthy Lombard sees growth in active lifestyles
LOMBARD – For Healthy Lombard founder Jay Wojcik, the growth the nonprofit foundation has experienced in the past five years is extremely encouraging.
“I’m so blessed and happy that people see that this is a valuable organization and want to be a part of it,” Wojcik said.
Healthy Lombard will host its annual Fitness February Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 22 in the center court at Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard. There will be 26 unique tables – up from 18 last year – and each one will be interactive, Wojcik explained.
“People mean well, [but] watching last year, it was a lot of grab-and-go,” she said. “If they can come to the tables and do something, they’ll remember the activities they did and go away with some new information that they didn’t have before.”
Guests will receive a card, and those that complete 16 of the 26 activities will automatically be entered into a raffle to win prizes. Activities include a bean bag toss, food quizzes, chair massages and demonstrations, including a student Zumba class from Glenbard East and martial arts from Sky Centers in Lombard.
Winners of the foundation’s 2014 Health Hero Awards also will be honored during the fair. Winners include three individuals, one family and two local organizations which have made a noticeable effort to improve their health and wellness during the past year.
State Rep. Sandra Pihos, lifestyle coach Melanie Jordan and Staley, the Chicago Bears mascot, will present awards to the winners at 1 p.m.
Wojcik, formerly a dancer, first grade teacher and director of communication at Lombard Elementary District 44, stressed the importance of physical fitness and said when she was teaching, it was rare to see a child having a hard time breathing or moving.
“We’re looking at kids [now] and wondering why they’re having problems with diabetes,” she said. “We need to get kids moving and get them to text a little less and move their feet a little more.”
Wojcik founded Healthy Lombard in 2009 along with Lombard’s former village president, the late William Mueller. Using a “AAA” approach, the village-wide initiative began with building awareness, the first “A,” about childhood obesity and healthy living, Wojcik said.
From there, the foundation turned to parts two and three – activities and achievements. Activities include the February fair and the G.Y.M. (Get Yourself Moving) Bags, a program for all second-graders in Lombard intended to promote 60-minutes of exercise a day on weekends. The Health Heroes winners are an example of achievement.
“We’re honoring people, and now we’re honoring organizations that have made a difference in the people that work for them,” Wojcik said.
Moving forward, the foundation’s goal is to promote expansion in other municipalities across DuPage County, Wojcik said. Addison, Bensenville, Elmhurst and Villa Park are among the towns where individuals have expressed interest in starting their own health foundation, Wojcik said.
“Our mission [now] is to be a template for other towns,” Wojcik said. “We’re more than happy to share our successes and failures. Pretty soon, we’ll have most of DuPage County doing their own thing, which is great.”