Hackney's Family Fun Day

4th September 2018

There were positive vibes in the air as members of the public flocked to a family fun day put on by members of the Hackney Seventh-day Adventist church on Sunday 19 August. The event, which took place in Haggerston, where the church is based, attracted both young and old with the variety of stalls and free activities offered.

As well as the tasty Caribbean cuisine, music to get everyone on their feet, a bouncy castle for the little ones and a domino tournament for the older ones, there were also stalls promoting health and well-being. Event co-ordinator, Andrea Simpson, said the fun day was a follow-up to the march the church held around Hackney during the May bank holiday in response to the knife and gun crime in the borough. "After our march around Hackney many people asked us what we would do next", said Andrea. She added: "Today was another opportunity to be out in the community to offer some free health advice as well as some fun activities for youngsters to let everyone know that we care and that as a church we are here to support those in need."

Yvonne-Joyce-DunkleyAmong the health stalls was one promoting living a smoke-free lifestyle. Marcos Castejon, from Hackney's smoke-free service, was encouraged by members of the public who showed a genuine interest in quitting the habit. He said: "There has been a really positive vibe here with many people responding well to our message about quitting smoking. Hackney has one of the highest rates of smoking in London – so we are here to let people know of the dangers of smoking and the help that is on offer for anyone wanting to quit."

Marcos, who encouraged individuals to partake in a CO monitor test, found that many of the participants were surprised to learn of how high their levels of smoking were. For anyone wanting to quit they were told to visit the website (www.smokefreehackney.org) where some tips and advice are given to help individuals live more healthy and productive lives.

One of the activities which drew a large crowd of participants was the 'Fit to Fite' sessionRoss-Mathieu – its motto being 'fighting moves to gospel grooves'. Fitness instructor, Ross Mathieu, who led the high tempo workout session, was happy to see the wide spectrum of participants wanting to keep fit. "We had participants from as young as 8 years to 88 years old, which just showed that there are no age restrictions when it comes to exercise", said Ross. He added that exercise is not only important for the body but also the mind and is a good stress reliever.

Ann Williams, a founding member of the Hackney Adventist church, also took part in the 'Fit to Fite' session; the 88-year-old said, "I felt good doing punching and kicking movements. We have to keep our limbs moving especially as we get older and exercise is important as it keeps our minds sharp." Ross, who is also a 5-time national champion and black belt in karate added, "I commend Hackney church for putting on a wide variety of activities today which reached out to the community."

16-year-old Joel Lendor, who attended the fun day said: "Events like these are good as they bring the community together." Shemaiah N'guessan, also 16, added: "There was something here for everyone – good food, music, the exciting 'Fit to Fite' session, the bouncy castle and ice cream."

Flying in from America was Yvonne Joyce Dunkley, who promoted her recently published book – Smiling Through Breast Cancer. She said, "I am a survivor of breast cancer and I am here to share my story, letting people know that they are not alone and like me, they can get through it." The proceeds from the sale of her book will be used to purchase a mammogram to help women in Jamaica affected with the illness.

Hackney pastor, Joojo Bonnie, felt the day was a success. He said: "We are not reinventing the wheel. This is about the church being seen in the community, letting people know that we care and that human relationships are important to us. This is just the beginning as we endeavour to meet, one step at a time, the growing needs of those in our community." 

[Darell J Philip]

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