HARVEST Festival focuses on creating, maintaing a healthy lifestyle

By Jonathan E. Coleman
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Even before the North Carolina Research Campus ushers in a new era of health initiatives, research and education with its official grand opening Monday, the site will play host to a wellness festival that organizers say will be unlike any that Cabarrus County has experienced before.

The campus is partnering with CMC NorthEast, the City of Kannapolis and the Independent Tribune to present H.A.R.V.E.S.T.:  A health & wellness festival.

“All of us together have the same goal, and that is to maximize the quality of human life,” said Phyllis Beaver, director of marketing for the North Carolina Research Campus.

The main focus of the event is to encourage everyone to make living healthy a lifestyle choice and not just to think about getting healthy only when you’re ####.

“We’re here to take care of you when you’re ####, but we also want to keep you well,” said Gayle Deal, executive director of business and community relations for CMC NorthEast. “This event is an element of that.

“It is our hope that when people say ‘harvest,’ it will mean more than a community festival.”

For the purpose of Saturday’s event, it stands for “Health, Awareness. & Research Via Education, Screening & Tasting.”

As the title implies, the event will include a wide array of educational activities to promote healthy living.

Family Fun Run and 5K
The day will kick off with a 5K and Fun Run organized by the Kannapolis Parks & Recreation Department.

“Almost two-thirds of the course is on our greenway system,” said Becky Tolle, recreation and special events coordinator for the parks and recreation department. “We’re very excited to showcase our 8th Street greenway, Back Creek Park greenway and Village Park. It’s very scenic.”

Day-of registration begins at 8 a.m., with a one-mile Family Fun Run scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. start and a 5K race beginning at 9 a.m. Racers can also register online through Oct. 17 at http://www.active.com or in person at the Parks & Recreation offices, 700 West C Street in Kannapolis or at the Kannapolis YMCA, 101 YMCA Drive.

At the conclusion of the race, the top three male and female finishers in each category will be recognized and presented with awards.

Health & fitness seminars
Beginning at 10 a.m., representatives from UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University, UNC Charlotte, Appalachian State University and CMC NorthEast will host a series of free seminars to discuss a wide range of health issues relating to everything from childhood obesity to facts and fables regarding metabolism. N.C. State University and UNC Greensboro will also participate in the festival.

“I think the involvement of the universities here shows their commitment to the community,” Beaver said. “Those who are coming to speak are internationally-recognized in their fields. 

“I don’t think people understand how lucky we are to have people of this caliber coming to speak in an open session.”

Health screenings, flu shots
In addition to seminars that organizers say will help participants plan for a healthier future, the H.A.R.V.E.S.T. festival will offer screenings to give them a better understanding of their current health.

CMC NorthEast will test blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels and body mass. Testing will also measure growth rate, grip strength and body composition. In total, the hospital will have nearly 30 different departments represented at the festival, offering screenings and information.

“All of those screenings can help you determine where you are on the health barometer,” Deal said. “The results they will get that day — they will know how they are going to make a change.

In addition to screenings, the Cabarrus Health Alliance will offer flu shots for $25. While shots are recommended for children and seniors who are considered higher risk, everyone should get annual shots, Deal said.

Just for kids
There will be several activities planned for younger audiences as well.

“We made a particular effort to reach out to young people because we know that that is where the good habits and the bad habits begin,” Beaver said.

In addition to the morning Family Fun Run, children are encouraged to take part in a Cardiac Kids & Hula Hoop contest put on by the Cannon Memorial YMCA at 2 p.m. UNC Greensboro, CMC NorthEast and Lowe’s Foods are partnering to put together a Food Fear Factor event, where brave kids can test their healthy eating habits with foods like spaghetti squash and star fruit.

“What I hope is that anybody who comes out finds something to contribute to a better quality of life,” said Timbs Fulghum, corporate events coordinator at CMC NorthEast. “I really hope it can make a difference in their lives.”

• Contact reporter Jonathan E. Coleman: 704-789-9105.

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