PALM SPRINGS – Thousands of students here in the valley finally completed a five-week race to better health. Palm Springs and Coachella took part in a challenge to find out which one is the desert’s fittest city.
“It was challenging,” Cathedral City High School student Jonathon Malendrez explained. “We had to do a lot of work.”
All of the hard work paid off, and now, Palm Springs is the desert’s fittest city.
For the 2009 Governor’s Fitness Challenge, Palm Springs and Coachella encouraged students, families, and community members to get active. The cities urged people to exercisethree tofourtimes a week for at least 30 minutes a day.
About 6,000 students from Palm Springs Unified School district successfully completed the challenge. Together, they logged nearly 140,000 active days.
“That’s what the challenge tries to do: get people active and reduce obesity,” Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet said triumphantly when the winner was announced Thursday. “It’s proven that healthier kids have healthier test scores.”
At the start of the race, the two city mayors made a friendly wager. Mayor Pougnet offered a free tram ride up the Palm Springs Tramway. Coachella mayor Eduardo Garcia offered loads of dates.
“There is like 200 pounds. That’s a lot of dates,” said Mayor Pougnet.
As the students got a taste of victory, most agree, success is sweet. Although the challenge is over, the commitment to health continues and, the reward for active living lasts a lifetime.
“At the end of the day, we are all winners,” said Mayor Garcia.
In addition to the overall winner, two schools in the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley Unified School Districts made the finals for the statewide challenge. They are now in contention for prizes ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. We’ll have those results in the fall.