KINGFIELD — Dozens of youngsters zoomed down Little Baker Hill on colorful flying saucers and inner tubes Friday afternoon as they passed the watchful adults tasked with keeping them safe.

They crashed happily and frequently into each other on the hill overlooking the SnoWanderers Sled Shed and the frozen Carrabassett River.

Even though they were intent on having as much fun as possible, Kingfield Elementary School students were celebrating their well-earned reward for dedicating themselves to a month of challenges.

The WinterKids Winter Games program selected one elementary school in each of Maine’s 16 counties to compete in January in their own version of the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

“This is the pilot year of the WinterKids Winter Games,” Julie Mulkern, the state’s executive director of WinterKids, said.

Schools competed for weekly points, based on the total percentage of the participating student body. Schools were selected for their past successful participation and community involvement.

“The entire Kingfield community has shown tremendous enthusiasm,” Principal Jaime Ela said. “I’m so impressed with the participation and great spirit in this town.”

The Winter Games program included four weekly focuses: family involvement, nutrition education, physical activity and Friday’s sledding party. Students enthusiastically completed the goals for outdoor physical activity and nutrition challenges, according to Kingfield teacher and Winter Games project director Selina Warren.

Leaders of the school program were encouraged to involve volunteers, parents, healthy eating and active living organizations in their community, and hold the sledding party to close out the month’s events. Warren said the school’s staff and community have put a tremendous effort into making the month a success.  January’s weather presented some challenges.

“We had to be very flexible because of the weather this month,” Warren said. “We have some great places around the school to snowshoe and ski and do other activities.”

Healthy Community Coalition educators Laura Quynn and Molly Clark developed activities that could be adapted for whatever the school day allowed.  Although those activities sometimes had to be indoors because of extreme cold and high winds, students always put their best effort into that day’s goals, according to Warren.

More than 24,000 children over the past seven years have participated in the WinterKids programs. The program began in 1997 as part of the Ski Maine Association’s efforts to get more young people involved in winter sports. Today’s funds come from sources such as grants and community and corporate donations. 

“The sliding was the best part of today,” student Celia Rose said.

She said she also enjoyed snowshoeing and playing “Ships and Sailors,” which teaches children to learn the four points of the compass.

Fionna Raley-Theberge, Lily Day, Abigail Wilcox and Kennedy Hicks zipped down the icy slopes of Little Baker Hill on Friday afternoon. They were part of WinterKids Winter Games sliding party for the students included pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school was chosen to represent Franklin County for four weeks of healthy activities, nutrition and community involvement.

Kingfield Elementary School students celebrate the end of the statewide competition as representatives of Franklin County’s WinterKids. The students, staff and community participated in Winter Games, which included four weeks of healthy activities, nutrition and community involvement. One school in each of Maine’s 16 counties was chosen to participate in the pilot project of the statewide program.

Kingfield Elementary School student Celia Rose celebrates with her classmates at the WinterKids Winter Games sliding party. Students celebrated the end of the statewide competition as representatives of Franklin County. The students, staff and community participated in four weeks of healthy activities, nutrition and community involvement. The Friday afternoon celebration also included the Maine Mountain Children’s House Montessori School.

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