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Newton County Recreation Commission to host Hershey’s Track and Field games

COVINGTON — It may have been three years in the making, but the Newton County Recreation Commission and the Cornerstone Track and Athletic Association will be holding their inaugural Hershey’s Track and Field games on at 9 a.m. at Newton High School on Saturday, April 12.

The event will be open Newton County residents only from the ages of 6-14, based on their age on Dec. 31, 2014, and as long as they are not already members of their school athletic team as per the Georgia Recreation and Park Association.

According to Ricard-Hodge, Walton County already has their own meet and they are hoping to get a meet in Rockdale.

“This opportunity is to expose kids that aren’t involved in athletics,” Olinda Ricard-Hodge, Co-founder/Executive Director of Cornerstone Track and Athletic Association (CTAA) said. “It’s to expose them to track and field so it would be an unfair advantage for those students that are involved on team sports to participate.”

Those participating will compete in various running events including several dashes. The dash events will consist of the 50-meter, 100, 200 and 400. The running events will be the 800-meter and 1,600- and the 4x100 relay. There will also be some non-running events which include the standing long jump and the softball throw.

“Our state as a whole has a high obesity rate among children. We’re trying to use this as a tool to maybe start some discussion about providing more opportunities for our younger group of kids. It’s not until they get in seventh grade that they’re able to participate. By that time some of the kids lose interest in active sports,” Ricard-Hodge said.

“Also, many parents don’t have the ability to enroll their children into outside organizations because of the cost or transportation issues they may have. So the school is really the best place to have physical fitness activities and opportunities for them to be competitive and really enjoy being part of activities that will allow them to be physically fit.”

With the exception of the younger participants, those 6-8, and the 9-12 year old 4x100 relay, the winners of the events will advance to the state meet at Westside High School in Augusta on Saturday, May 9.

All state meet winners will be entered into a regional pool and will become eligible for selection to a regional team which will travel to Hershey, Penn. to compete in the North American Final.

The CTAA is also looking for middle and high school as well as adult volunteers to help the events run smoothly.

“April 12 is also recognized for the Global Youth Service Day. We want to make sure that even though students that aren’t eligible to compete, those that are athletes on their school team, come out and help volunteer. A lot of times students that are involved in athletics don’t have the time to do volunteer service. This would be a great opportunity for them to be a part of it,” Ricard-Hodge said.

“We’re looking for adults as well. We’re reaching out to the coaches in the area to get them on board to help. Ultimately, these kids are going to be going to the high schools. We want the coaches to start looking at these kids and be a part of grooming them to be healthy and active.”

The entry fee is $6 for 6-8 year-olds and $12 for those 9-14. Participants and volunteers must register online at www.cornerstonetrackandathletics.org.