GALVESTON – A hoped resurgence of community-wide health and physical fitness began Saturday morning in Galveston with the inaugural Kermit Courville Health Day.
“(Saturday) was just a day for getting families and kids out and active and involved in the summertime,” Health Day founder Paul Morgan said of the event at Kermit Courville Stadium. “Our hope is to bring the whole community together for wellness, fun, health and education.”
The event, from 8 a.m. to noon, featured an obstacle course and 50-yard dash races for children, as well as fitness drills and cardio workouts with local health-related organizations.
The inspiration for Health Day comes from a youth track and field competition sponsored by the Galveston Housing Authority in the 1980s, which Morgan referred to as “the Olympics.” Back then, it served as the first chance for local youth, including Morgan, to compete at track.
“It’s something that I had as a child, and I want to provide the same thing to the kids that are here in Galveston,” Morgan said.
One of the founders of the housing authority’s event, Eric Temple Sr., read about Morgan’s efforts and traveled all the way from Detroit to help out with the new Health Day.
“I saw it in the paper, and I said, ‘I have to come in and sit in on this,’” Temple said.
The inaugural Health Day drew about 15 to 20 kids ranging from ages four to 12.
The turnout, Morgan said, was below his expectations.
Temple pointed out, though, that the 1980s event that regularly drew 400 to 500 kids each year until it was shuttered in the late 1990s began in its first year with just about 65 in attendance.
Temple said strong community support will be the key factor in seeing this type of event reach its potential.
“He’s looking to rebuild it, and that’s going to take some time,” Temple said. “The community itself has to get involved, and that’s from the elected officials on through to the housing (authority). The support we had back in the ’80s was just super. The entire community was behind it.”
Janinne Courville, the daughter of the legendary Ball High School track and football coach who is the event and stadium’s namesake, also was in attendance to assist with Health Day, and said she was pleased to see this type of event return.
“These kids need something to do, and it’s very important to bring them together as a community to meet other kids their age and just stay active,” Courville said. “This generation is in a pretty bad place right now, so it’s good to see kids wanting to be active instead of being pushed into having to do it. I’m excited about this getting bigger every year.”
Morgan said he plans to begin working closely with the city of Galveston, Galveston ISD and other partners to not only make the health day bigger and better as an annual event, but to also create similar events throughout the year — such as an “elementary Olympics” with competitors from all the district’s elementary schools.