The Culpeper Parks and Recreation department is making sure that everyone has the opportunity to get fit this fall.

‘Let’s Get Healthy Culpeper” is a 12-week program initiated by the Parks and Rec department to help the residents of the area learn how to achieve optimal health through educational resources, fitness classes and eating habits. The kickoff event will take place on Sunday, Aug. 19, from 3-5 p.m. at the Culpeper County Library.

The event will have showcases from the participating organizations to give everyone who attends the opportunity to sign up for the different activities and resources available to them. Among the participating organizations are the Parks and Rec department, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Culpeper County Library and the Free Clinic of Culpeper.

Free fitness classes will be offered throughout the program by the Parks and Rec department. Some of the scheduled classes include yoga, zumba, retro aerobics and a fitness party, a mix of all the different types of workouts available over the course of the program.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension will be hosting adult cooking classes. These classes are all about making sure people know how to cook healthy meals no matter how much time someone may have or the size of their wallet. Classes offered includes quick meals that taste great, recipe makeovers, holiday eats and treats and how to read labels at a grocery store. Each class has their own specific registration deadline, and registration is required to participate.

While there are adult cooking workshops offered, 4-H will be hosting a cooking workshop for teens. The 4-H Food Challenge Series is for kids between 13 and 18 years old. In this series participants will plan and cook meals while learning basic nutrition, meal budgeting and plating techniques. The goal is for the workshop to be its own version of a cooking competition.

Becky Sheffield Gartner, extension agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension, says that the classes offered through the program could go a long way in helping people’s knowledge about health.

“We are trying to let people know that making small changes can affect your overall individual and family health,” Gartner said.

The county library will have a variety of resources available to participants over the course of the program. Cookbooks, diet books, get healthy DVDs and fitness trackers will be available for check out.

The Free Clinic of Culpeper will be at both the kickoff and wrap-up event to dole out health assessments. Receiving a health assessment isn’t required to participate in the program, but it is suggested so that you can see if the classes you took during the 12 weeks helped improve your health. The wrap-up event will take place on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

John Barrett, the director of the Parks and Rec department, knows that the value of the program is something special for residents.

“It’s a great time for residents to learn about community health resources available to individuals and families, sample a variety of healthy living programs and experience health improvement first hand,” Barrett said.

“Let’s Get Healthy Culpeper” was made possible through a grant from the Culpeper Wellness Foundation. Registration for everything will be available at the kickoff event and there is limited space available for the classes.

Hunter Robinson is the sports editor for the Culpeper Star-Exponent and can be reached at hrobinson@starexponent.com or 540/825-9104.

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