More than 200 attend family health night at Blaine Elementary

Published on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The first major event under the Let’s Move! Blaine! banner attracted more than 200 elementary students and parents to the Blaine Elementary School, with organizers promising more events to come.

The June 7 Blaine family health night featured a heathy dinner sourced from local farms and bakeries, physical activities designed to get both hearts and minds racing, and booths where elementary school students could win prizes. Dan Persse, the Blaine elementary physical education teacher spearheading the Let’s Move! Blaine! campaign, said the success of the June 7 event makes him hopeful events planned for fall and winter will be just as well attended.

“It’s really just the tip of the iceberg, this healthy evening,” Persse said.

The Let’s Move! campaign, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a national effort to end childhood obesity through community-sponsored healthy eating and living programs. Blaine City Council declared Blaine a Let’s Move! city last October, and local organizers have been working since then to spread the word of healthy living through community programs.

The June 7 event started with a 6 p.m. dinner that fed just more than 200 elementary school students and parents, Persse said. The meal featured salads with locally grown lettuce, healthy yogurt parfaits and bread from Avenue Bread in Bellingham.

“It was just an organic, healthy meal,” Persse said of the evening’s food, which was provided free of charge through a grant partnership with the Whatcom Community Foundation.

Following the meal, children and parents visited various health vendors and participated in numerous physical activities in the elementary school’s gym, all coordinated by the Bellevue-based Hope Heart Institute. Children could also enter a raffle for the chance to win two community farm shares from Wake Robin Farm, based in Ferndale.

Persse said he was most impressed with the engagement attendees showed, even after the free meal was over. He said elementary school principal Craig Baldwin also noted that the families present represented a wide range of demographics.

“It was just this really cool energy from people wanting to be a part of something even bigger,” Persse said. “The responses were phenomenal.”

Looking toward the future, Persse said he is planning Blaine family health nights in fall and winter that will focus on teaching families how to prepare and cook healthy meals at home using simple ingredients. Persse is also organizing the Run to the Border through Marine Park, which will coincide with Blaine’s Drayton Harbor Days in August and raise money for the Let’s Move! Blaine! campaign.

With help from the Blaine Boys and Girls Club and the Whatcom Farm-to-Schools program, Persse hopes to have a student-run farmers market up and running by next summer. The market would ideally be run out of the yet-to-be built Blaine pavilion, set to be attached the Blaine community center.

For more information on the Let’s Move! Blaine! campaign, visit