Purchase photos

A new Quest for fun





The Center for Health Improvement at Hays Medical Center is attempting to help children turn off the television and walk, bike, run or play this summer.

The second annual Kids Quest rewards children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade for staying active.

The goal is 30 miles. Rewards are given as the child hits a milestone. Prizes include fruit from Dillons, a smoothie from CHI, a pool pass for Hays Aquatic Park or a salad from McDonald's.

"It's an incentive to get kids active throughout the summer," said Jonna Dinkel, youth coordinator at CHI. "They reach a new destination and are able to get a prize. The prizes are all healthy to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. We wanted sponsors who offered some sort of health benefit."

Throughout the summer, participants are on their own to complete the 30 miles. An hour of activity equals 1 mile. More than 150 children are registered. Kids Quest resembles a program in Columbia, Mo., where Dinkel and Kelly Flaska, aquatic and fitness supervisor, first saw the idea.

"This was necessary to keep kids healthy during summertime," Flaska said. "They lose a lot of activity levels because they're sitting at home. Then school starts, and it's that much harder for them to get active. So, we saw the idea for the program and decided to make it our own."

The program is free to participate, and children can register at any time before Aug. 7.

"My favorite part is seeing the kids just moving and enjoying it," Flaska said. "And the thing is, it's the kids who really want to do it. Some of the parents said it also helped them stay active, and that's really what our goal is."

"We want to make it a family affair, so they're thinking about moving more. If you instill active activity in kids now, they're going to be a lot more likely to be active as they get older."