SEQUIM — The folks with the Dungeness River Audubon Center are taking a wild approach to getting exercise naturally.
A new Animal Olympics fitness station has been set up at Railroad Bridge Park, the center’s home on the Dungeness River.
It will encourage youths and adults to flap their wings like a bird, run like an elk or jump like a frog, among other fast-moving native creatures that might be found in and around the park or Dungeness Valley.
The fitness station was installed in time for the first Outdoor Fun Fair scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s to try to get people more healthy and more involved,” said Powell Jones, in his first year as the river center’s director.
Bob Boekelheide retired last year after 10 years at the center’s helm.
“The big new emphasis is to get charged up about Spring Fling,” Jones said.
The Outdoor Fun Fair is intended to be a feel-good experience that kicks off the fourth annual Dungeness Spring Fling fundraiser, according to Jones and River Center board member Julie Jackson.
“It’s a campaign to try to use something other than drugs to solve problems like obesity” and attention deficit disorder in children and adults, Jones said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Railroad Bridge Park, located where West Hendrickson Road ends at the Dungeness River, and the goal for Dungeness Spring Fling is for 20 teams to raise $20,000.
Registration forms will be available at the Outdoor Fun Fair.
Jones calls Animal Olympics an innovative way for people to enjoy exercising outdoors.
Besides Animal Olympics, the Outdoor Fun Fair will feature clogging, yoga, zumba, guided walks, a family bike ride on the Olympic Discovery Trail led by Jones, and several exhibits.
Jones will put on a short bicycle clinic in which he will address common bike repairs such as tire, chains and proper bike saddle height.
The Outdoor Fun Fair has scheduled a bird walk leaving the river center at 8:30 a.m.
The Olympic Mountain Cloggers will perform on the River Stage at 10 a.m. and activities for all ages will take place throughout the day until 4 p.m.
Sequim Fresh Caterers will be selling healthy food at the fair. All other activities there are free.
The complete schedule for the Outdoor Fun Fair is available on the River Center web site, www.DungenessRiverCenter.org.
The river center joined with the North Olympic Health Champions — a group that includes the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, and Olympic Medical Center — to produce the Animal Olympics.
The goal of the Health Champions is to get children outdoors and active, and more healthy as a result.
They sponsor a Nature Club and a Healthy Habits Club in partnership with the Jamestown Family Health Clinic and the Sequim unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
“The kids love the Animal Olympics” said Dr. Larri Ann Mishko.
“It is a really fun activity.”
Animal Olympics is not just for kids.
It is amazing how challenging it is to flap your “wings” like a hummingbird bird 100 times, Jones said.
Hummingbirds, he said, beat their wings 100 times per second.
Nurse Practitioner Diane Root Racine and Mishko, of the Jamestown Health Clinic in Sequim, attended a national workshop by the National Environmental Education Foundation, which led to bringing Animal Olympics to Railroad Bridge Park.
Exhibits at the Outdoor Fun Fair will include organizations working toward healthy lifestyles and outdoor fun.
At the Nature Club booth, Olympic Medical Cancer Center will co-sponsor “Don’t Fry Day,” a program for awareness of skin cancer prevention on the Friday before Memorial Day.
The Nature Club, Jones said, teaches children how to cook healthy foods and get out of the house to enjoy the outdoors.
In addition, the Cancer Center will sponsor free skin cancer screening from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. May 26 at Railroad Bridge Park.
The Olympic Medical Center booth at Saturday’s event will encourage families to “Live Well Now.”
Information on practical steps for creating more healthy habits for children and their families will be available.
Suggestions range from getting outside to tracking and minimizing media time such as TV, computer or video games.
The Olympic Driftwood Sculptors will also have a booth at the Fair, and during Spring Fling artist Sequim artist Tuttie Peetz will be sanding driftwood to raise funds for the center and park.
Spring Fling events, such as the 5K River Center Run on May 12, and guided walks and hikes will take place during May.
To register for the River Center Run go to www.sequimgym.com/id67.html.
The calendar of events is on the River Center web site, www.dungenessrivercenter.org, as well as details for participating and/or sponsoring a favorite Dungeness Spring Fling team.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at email@example.com.