Sparkles has been an advocate of healthy living as evidenced through its summer Family Fitness and Fun program. On the brink of its fourth year, the program is each Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. starting June 7 to Aug. 30. Skating and admission is free.
Tara Henry, Sparkles vice president, started Family Fitness and Fun. After moving from New York City in 2005, Henry noticed her daughter had gained weight.
“I thought we have the perfect venue for getting kids up and off the couch,” she said.
Ava Couey, president, said Sparkles implemented Kids Skate Free in February and is open for children 10 and younger. “Sparkles decided to get involved with the Kids Skate Free program because it helps children with fighting childhood obesity. It gives them exercise,” she said. “It’s also beneficial for the parents. It’s every economical.”
According to www.kidsskatefree.com, skating burns between 330 to 600 calories per hour. Children can increase their muscular strength and cardiorespiratory endurance, improve their balance and flexiblitiy, relieve tension and build enthusiasm. The American Heart Association and President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports endorse roller skating as a good fitness activity.
Parents can register their children for the program by visiting www.kidsskatefree.com/sparkleskennesaw. Each child will receive two free skating passes per week. Once the program begins, an email will be sent each Sunday with a link to the coupons that are required for admission. Coupons are only valid for skating times and days listed.
Parents and children love the program, Ava Couey said. “It’s getting their kids out doing something, getting them moving, getting them to exercise. We get compliments all the time on the program,” she said.
Acworth residents Angela and Jeff Kennedy talk to their three daughters — Leah, 6; Anna, 11; and Kristina, 9 — about the balance of exercise and healthy eating.
Angela said, “It’s a great form of exercise. It’s a great opportunity to have fun and burn calories.”
Her daughters are involved in activities such as soccer and dance, and skating is something all three enjoy.
“It’s fun,” Anna said. “Just today, I learned how to go fast on the rink.”
Leah said, “I like it because you roll, and it’s easier to roll instead of walking.”
“You at least get a chance to roll on the rink,” Kristina said. “It’s not forcing you. You can just take it step by step.”
Ava Couey said the reward for her is seeing the families together and the children having fun doing a healthy activity. “Seeing that they’re getting off the couch; they’re coming and doing something that’s productive and healthy. It’s a healthy environment for them,” she said. “They’re having a good time. It’s nice to get feedback that Sparkles is going out of the way to do something that helps them.”
Regular hours of Kids Skate Free are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. Summer hours are Tuesday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Sunday from 2 to 7 p.m.
The Kennesaw Sparkles center is at 1000 McCollum Parkway. Additional locations are in Hiram, Smyrna and Gwinnett County. For more information, visit www.sparklesfamilyfuncenters.com.