Commission Focuses on Kids at Kalamazoo Heart Walk     

September 30, 2015    

The Michigan Potato Industry Commission went to the Kalamazoo Heart Walk Sept. 26 to help youngsters have fun, burn off energy—and learn a lot about potatoes.


“Our sponsorship of the Kids’ Zone at the Heart Walk was a blast,” said Adam Novello, the Commission’s business/program manager who was in charge of the project.  “We were able to reach kids and their parents through games and food and activities.”


The American Heart Association (AHA) conducts Heart Walks in communities around the nation in conjunction with local chapters.  The Kalamazoo event offered a walking experience for adults for an hour and a half last Saturday morning at the downtown Arcadia Creek Festival Site and Amphitheatre, but children were also included.  As the AHA website explains, the goal is to “promote physical activity and heart-healthy living in a fun, family environment.”


So while parents were engaged in hiking, the Commission was engaged in keeping their kids occupied with a wide assortment of activities centered around the potato.  “We had an art tent and a food tent and a ‘kids dig potatoes’ station,” Novello said.  “There was an inflatable obstacle course.  We even had a cannon.  There was a lot going on.”


At the art tent, he said, there were potato stamps formed from potatoes cut in half and then cut away more to leave a raised surface as on rubber stamps.  The potato stamps were dipped in paint so the children could stamp images on paper and then display their creations.


“Their art work filled one of our stations,” Novello said.  “We also had a station where kids would dig for potatoes and win a prize, and all the kids loved that one.  There was a lot of excitement there.  The cannon got a lot of interest too.  It shot out ‘Michigan Potato’ T-shirts and foam spuds.  The kids liked to grab those.”


The food tent, he said, was intended to bring in both children and parents.  “We had recipes there from the potato competition we sponsor with the Michigan Restaurant Association,” he said, adding that there was a lot of enthusiastic sampling going on.


Novello noted that the Commission’s sponsorship at the Heart Walk—a first-time endeavor—was a natural.  “The American Heart Association is centered on education and health, and so are we,” he said.  “Having a healthy lifestyle and making healthy choices is so important, and we both share that.  Our goal is to promote better eating patterns—obviously with potatoes—and daily exercise and healthy habits for kids and grown-ups alike.  The Heart Walk was a great event, and we were proud to be a part of such an important cause.  We went all out on this event, and I think both the children and their parents appreciated our efforts.”


Plenty of photos came out of the Kids’ Zone activities, and many are posted at the Commission’s Facebook site, which can be accessed at          


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