Kids Expo offers free screenings, info and lessons Saturday, Aug. 16

BY PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

August 12, 2008 - It will soon be time for kids to tumble out of bed and get ready for school each weekday morning as the 2008-2009 school year quickly approaches.

To help prepare the students for good health and fitness in the upcoming year are Jeff and Kathy Wiles of Sulphur Springs Gymnastics, 1530 W. Industrial Way, as they host a Kids Expo Saturday, Aug. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will host free health screenings, free safety information and free introductory classes in dance, martial arts and gymnastics will be offered.

"It's going to be a fun filled day," said Jeff Wiles, also a gymnastics coach at the facility he opened six years ago."The whole purpose of the day is for kids to have an opportunity to get ready for school health-wise and physical activity-wise and to enjoy the day out here.

"We have many people from the community involved with the free programs," he added.

On hand for general health care will be pediatrician, pediatrician Tod Conner. He will be giving free screenings for eyes and ears, as well as local dentist Melissa Nix, an associate of Dr. Matthew Johnson's office, providing free dental check-ups.

Jeff Wiles himself will be presenting introductory classes in gymnastics and tumbling every half hour.

"As far as gymnastics are concerned, we're not here just to produce Olympians," he explained. "What were here to do is introduce kids to a sport they can have fun with the rest of their lives."

According to Wiles, most of the youngsters have realistic goals of getting scholarship to college rather than making it to the Olympics.

"Our goal is to introduce them to the sport, make them as successful as they can be and give them an avenue to compete, if that is what they want, or just purely recreational. Our ultimate goal is to have a healthy and a caring, loving atmosphere. That's what were doing here."

Another free introductory class will be taekwondo, offered by Daron and Melissa Bilyeu of ATA Black Belt Academy, also located at the facility.

"We stress life skills in our martial arts classes," said Daron Bilyeu, a black belt. "Beyond the physical skills we teach courtesy, self respect, self discipline, respect to parents, respect to each other, to the community, perseverance. All these life skills just become a part of you and infused in you as you grow in your martial arts development."

Bilyeu said the introduction class emphasis will be on child safety, abduction and prevention with a program called "Kids N Power," a worldwide initiative to help minimize the risk of child abduction through education.

The program covers important safety information in a straightforward, non-threatening way including break away techniques, stranger warning signs, tips to deal with bullies and Internet safety precautions.?

"It is our goal to reduce or even eliminate the risk of child and teenage abduction in Hopkins County," stated Bilyeu on his website at "There is no obligation to sign up for martial arts classes to attend. If even one life is saved by what is taught during these open houses, then it will all be worth it."?

According to both Wiles and Bilyeu, many times doctors and counselors refer children to their physical activity program as a means to provide them a productive outlet for energy.

"We have a number of kids referred to us because they are 'labeled; hyper and they need a way to release all that extra energy," explained Wiles. "What we have discovered is that if you keep kids interested in sports, the easier time they're gonna have in school. A lot of times it teaches them to control of themselves."

Sulphur Springs police, fire department and EMS will also be on hand with emergency vehicles and offering other safety tips in various emergency situations.

The Studio, where dance is life, is another class offered at the facility. Instructor Katie McCarley will offer free techniques that day in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop.

And the Sulphur Springs High School cheerleaders will be teaching cheers and routines to little wildcat fans for the coming sports events

The Hopkins County Dairy Museum will be serving free ice cream and other concessions will also be available.

For more information call 903-438-0748.

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