[VIDEO] Groups work to foster a fitter future for keiki

Pacific Games throwdown, MPD expo support healthy activities

Brothers Kano‘eau Delatori, 12, and Kainoa Hayes, 9, go head-to-head in a basketball shooting challenge as Central Maui Sports Ohana coach Joe Blackburn looks on during Saturday’s Pacific Youth Sports and Fitness Expo presented by the Maui Police Activities League at War Memorial Complex. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — For police working with Maui County youngsters, investing in their health and wellness can help create a better future.

“Being amongst all these officers who do volunteer their time, each and every one of them care about these kids,” said Maui police Sgt. Terence S. Gomez. “We see that by being active, it pays it forward later in the future.”

Gomez, along with other volunteers, helped organize the second annual Pacific Youth Sports and Fitness Expo that drew more than 3,500 people, according to police estimates, to War Memorial Complex on Saturday. The Maui Police Activities League event featured 50 health, sports, nutrition and fitness booths, as well as group demonstrations, food and entertainment.

From wrestling, jiujitsu, gymnastics, Zumba and more, the gym was filled with exhibitions and activities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Youth sports coaches, athletes, sponsors, families and vendors from around the state attended. Weightlifting and flag football competitions were also held.

As part of the event, Wailuku-based gym All Kine CrossFit presented the Pacific Games Throwdown, an outdoor fitness challenge with four-person teams and various divisions. Ten fitness domains were tested: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

Teams sprinted, push-pressed, pull-upped and lunged their way through four events at the War Memorial Complex lawn.

“It’s really tough, but it’s really fun,” said Nyasia Martinez of Pukalani, who was part of an all-teenager team Saturday. “It’s a full-body workout. You just bog but it’s fun.”

Martinez, who played soccer, track, cross country and water polo at King Kekaulike High School, said the throwdown and the sports and fitness expo were good ways to promote health and wellness.

“It encourages everyone to come out here and support each other and get active,” she said.

She added that throwdown participants don’t have to do CrossFit, a functional fitness program used by police, fire, military and others, or know any one sport to get involved.

“Everyone is so nice and welcoming,” Martinez said. “I would definitely recommend trying it. It’s a cool experience and it’s worth it.”

Proceeds from the annual expo and throwdown go toward the Maui Police Activities League, a nonprofit dedicated to providing Maui County youths with athletic opportunities as an alternative to idleness and delinquency. The nonprofit, which provides no-cost athletic programs, brings law enforcement volunteers and kids together in a positive setting to build and foster relationships.

With the community outreach, volunteers are “giving (kids) opportunities to participate, keeping them physically active and healthy, promoting a healthy lifestyle and making right choices,” Gomez said.

Gomez, whose work focuses on the police Juvenile Crime Prevention Division, said that investing in kids at an early age and helping them know that officers are “here to help” make the job worthwhile.

“Some of the vendors here, I taught them in driver’s ed — they tend to remember you,” he said. “It’s rewarding for us in that way.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.