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Members of the walking group get ready to hike the M Trail in Madras.By Susan Matheny

General Editor

Members of the Comunidad Latina En Accion group have been getting fit with weekly hikes up the Madras M Trail.

Minda Morton, coordinator of the Jefferson County Commission on Children and Families, said the group started last January after the health department received a grant and decided to focus on obesity problems in the community.

“We wanted to reach out to the Latino community, so we sent out a letter to Latino leaders and held a dinner where we talked about childhood obesity and formed the Comunidad Latina En Accion group,” Morton said.

She noted that local schools have a 50 percent student obesity rate. In addition, she said, “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks the health of every county in the nation, and right now Jefferson county ranks 32nd out of 33 counties in Oregon. Oregon has 36 counties, but three counties had populations too low to rate."

The group is currently working on increasing physical activity and learning about nutrition. Eventually, Morton would like to work with the schools to improve school lunch offerings, and the families to improve home nutrition.

For the summer, the focus is on activity and the group, mostly moms and kids, has begun meeting every Wednesday to walk the M Trail.

“We had 28 people show up for our weekly walk up to the M. The walking group has been slowly gaining more and more people each week,” Morton said.

In a kid-oriented event, July 11, the group partnered with the Safe Routes to School program to hold a bike ride at Sahalee Park.

To their surprise, around 20 kids attended. “It was our first bike ride and we didn’t know how many would show up, so it exceeded our expectations,” Morton said.

Stan Nowakowski, Mora Schwartz and Michael McGinnis, with the Safe Routes program, provided bicycles for kids who didn’t have bikes, while other kids brought their own.

After a bicycle safety review, they led the older kids on a bike ride along the Willow Creek bike path, while Morton took the younger kids on a ride at and around Sahalee Park.

“It was really great to see so many kids out enjoying the exercise instead of sitting in front of some sort of screen,” she said, noting, “We’ll have another ride in two weeks.”

The summer calendar of events for Comunidad Latina En Accion includes:

. Wednesday Walking Group, at 7 p.m, July 24 and 31, Aug. 7, 14 21, 28 and Sept. 4. Meet at the Madras Skate Park.

. Bike ride at Juniper Hills Park, July 25, Aug. 8, and 22.

. Swim party at the Madras Aquatic Center, 6-8 p.m., Aug. 15.

. Zumba dance class at 7 p.m., Aug. 29, for adults and children over age 12.

. Picnic in Bean Park at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 5. Bring Frisbees, volleyballs, soccer balls and kites.

For more information, contact Morton at Jefferson County Public Health Department, 541-325-5040, ext. 4218.

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