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Farmers' Market offers Fun Run, kids' expo

Exercise and health-care education will resonate throughout the Atlanta Farmers' Market this Saturday, during a festival at the market, according to Marsha Thomas, manager of the Georgia Grown Welcome Center, at the facility.

Thomas said the festival will have two main events — the Pumpkin Fun Run and The Children's Nutrition Education & Physical Activity Expo. "It's kind of to pull the community together," she said.

The Pumpkin Fun Run is hosted by the Atlanta Produce Dealers Association, according to Thomas, who is also the assistant director of the association. The Fun Run will take place at the Georgia Grown Welcome Center, from 9 a.m., to 10 a.m., she said. The Welcome Center is adjacent to the Oakwood Cafe, at the market, which is located at 16 Forest Parkway, Forest Park..

The race is $20 for individuals, who register before the event, by calling the Welcome Center at (404) 366-8767, and $25 for those who register the day of the event, from 8 a.m., to 8:45 a.m. "The money will go towards the Atlanta Produce Dealers Association's scholarship fund," she said. All of the racers will get a T-shirt, and winners will be awarded various prizes, she added.

In addition to the Fun Run, Thomas said, the Farmers' Market collaborated with a non-profit organization — the Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.), Inc. — to bring a free expo to the event. The Children's Nutrition Education & Physical Activity Expo," will take also place Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., she said.

The expo, which will begin after the race, will educate youngsters about the importance of healthy eating and exercising. Thomas said it will assist C.H.O.I.C.E.S., in relaying its message, and will promote the variety of produce the Farmers' Market has to offer.

Vanetta Keyes, founder and executive director of C.H.O.I.C.E.S., said the grassroots organization was created in April 2002 to help fight against childhood obesity.

"It was personal," said Keyes, of why she created the organization. "My daughter struggled with her weight as a child ... so I started something on my own as a support group ... and now it has grown to help hundreds of families in metro Atlanta."

According to Keyes, the expo targets youths ages 5 to 18. Keyes said there will be a variety of expo tables on hand, with educational activities, and children can enjoy face-painting, in which artists will draw fruits and vegetables on their faces. There will also be craft activities that promote exercise.

Keyes said that beyond the expo tables, youngsters will get a tour of the Farmers' Market, through the Fresh Express Train. The Atlanta Braves' Outreach Team is also scheduled to be present, and will provide inflatable batting cages for kids to use, she said.

"It's important, because our children are our future," said Keyes.

There will also be free health screenings for adults, including blood pressure and glucose screenings, she said. "It's a free event for the entire family. There is something for everyone."