Embracing hula-hoops and healthy living for all

To celebrate World Health Day on April 7, 2018, the Abundant Health initiative of The United Methodist Church launched Hulapalooza. Churches in New York, South Carolina, and Zimbabwe participated in this exciting, new health event.

“I can’t tell you how much fun we had in New York last week,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the New York Annual Conference. Mount Vernon First United Methodist Church in New York was among the sites that hosted Hulapalooza. “From Thai-chi to Zumba, to spiritual prayer and nutrition, and all this crazy hula hooping, we had an amazing time. I encourage you to search out these resources and tell the story,” said Bishop Bickerton.

The Abundant Health initiative seeks to improve health and wholeness for all people by engaging churches and communities. The concept behind Hulapalooza is to show churches that health can be fun and creative and is easily adaptable to a church’s resources.

Zimbabwe East Annual Conference and Zimbabwe West Annual Conference joined in on the Hulaplaooza fun. Hosting sites across six districts reached 3,700 people. Many came to learn more about health and play hula-hoop and jump rope games.

Jenifer Crawford, director of Christian education at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina, helped organize the event with church member and dietician Lacy Ngo. “It went great!” said Crawford. “About 250 people came. I heard lots of positive comments. People loved being able to take home the hula hoops. It was fun!”

St. John’s UMC hosted games and contests centered on hula-hoop themes for children, youth, and adults. Dental screenings and blood pressure checks were also available for participants. The first 200 attendees received free hula hoops and t-shirts.

Debbie Ngo brought her two grandchildren, ages 4 and 10, to the event. “It’s great to make people more aware of health issues,” said Ngo, whose daughter-in-law, Lacy Ngo, helped coordinate the event. “Being ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean you have to be at the gym all the time. You can be creative.”

Cailey Barnes brought her two children so they could understand health on a new level. “My oldest son is always on the spectrum of being overweight versus not,” said Barnes. “I really wanted him to know the importance of being fit and that being fit is also fun, not ‘Aw, I don’t want to do it.’”

“It’s fun to be healthy,” said Cailey’s son, Dylan Barnes who is 11 years old. “If you’re fit and healthy, you can do more, and you have more energy and stuff, and you can run around. For me, I love climbing trees, and you can’t do that if you’re not healthy and strong.”

Churches everywhere can use Hulapalooza to encourage physical activity and healthy living within each church. Embrace health and wholeness for your church and community by hosting a Hulaplaooza event at your church. Learn more by visiting: www.UMCAbundantHealth.org

*Bella Simonetti is a communications specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries.