It’s Time Texas Summit set for June 15-16

Participants in last year's It's Time Texas listen to speakers. Photo courtesy It's Time Texas
Participants in last year’s It’s Time Texas listen to speakers. Photo courtesy It’s Time Texas

Need a jolt of motivation to help you launch a healthier lifestyle?

It’s Time Texas will host its annual two-day health summit at the JW Marriott next Monday and Tuesday. The event is designed to inspire people around Texas to eat more nutritious food and live more active lives.

This year’s summit will focus on emerging trends and strategies for improving health in five core areas – workplace, community, school, policy and innovation.

This year's It's Time Texas summit takes place Monday and Tuesday. Photo courtesy It's Time Texas
This year’s It’s Time Texas summit takes place Monday and Tuesday. Photo courtesy It’s Time Texas

The keynote speaker is Dr. Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of Texas Tribune, will moderate a symposium titled “Creating a Culture of Health in Texas.”

An array of leaders from organizations including Texas Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the United Way and H.E.B. will also be on hand.

Among them are Dr. Chris Skisak, executive director of the Houston Business Coalition on Health, who will speak about improving employee wellness through community partnerships and business coalitions. Alice Kirk and Mike Lopez, extension health specialists with Texas A&M University, will discuss building school and community collaborations. Todd Whitthorne of ACAP Health will talk about creating a culture of wellness in the workplace.

“Our goal with the summit is to bring together leaders from Texas’ K-12, employer, nonprofit, government, industry, healthcare and academic sectors to share best practices and scale up what is working across the state,” says Baker Harrell, founder It’s Time Texas.

Sponsors and partners include H.E.B., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, SNAP-Ed RGK Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, The University of Texas School of Public Health, The Texas Tribune, CATCH Global Foundation and ACAP Health.

Registration is $150 ($100 for teachers or non-profits) here.

Free prenatal health program offered at two Austin YMCAs

Photo courtesy YMCA of Austin
Photo courtesy YMCA of Austin

A free new program at two Austin YMCA branches aims to help expectant mothers from low-income households prepare for birth and exercise safely during their pregnancies.

The free nine-week prenatal health and fitness program, “Becoming a Mom/Comenzando bien,” will be offered from 10 a.m. – noon at the North Austin YMCA, 1000 W. Rundberg Lane, and from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays at the East Communities YMCA, 5315 Ed Bluestein Boulevard.

It is a collaboration between the YMCA of Austin and March of Dimes.

“By helping mothers to adopt healthier habits before their babies are even born, we hope to help their children live healthier lives from the start,” says Lauren Milius, health and wellness director at the East Communities YMCA. “We’re very excited to help March of Dimes expand the Becoming a Mom program in Central Texas.”

Expectant mothers will learn how to prepare for birth, create a birth plan, and what to expect both during and after pregnancy. Classes will also teach pregnant women how to exercise safely during pregnancy, and will include light exercise and meditation.

For more information, contact Lauren Milius at (512) 933-9622 or lauren.milius@austinymca.org.

Blanco State Park to remain closed at least two months

Crews work to remove mud and gravel at Blanco State Park. Photo by Shelby Tauber/Austin American-Statesman
Crews work to remove mud and gravel at Blanco State Park. Photo by Shelby Tauber/Austin American-Statesman

Recent flooding scoured the day use area of Blanco State Park, which will likely remain closed for at least two months while crews clean up.

“The entire day use area was wiped out – barbecue pits, picnic tables and shade shelters,” office manager Jay Erlanson said.

The day-use area of the park was heavily damaged, but the campground and cabins survived the floods. Shelby Tauber/Austin American-Statesman
The day-use area of the park was heavily damaged, but the campground and cabins survived the floods. Shelby Tauber/Austin American-Statesman

Monday, workers were busy scooping mud and gravel off roadways and hauling away downed tree limbs and other debris left in the storm’s wake. Broken branches and scraps of metal still lined the shore, road signs were bent at the ankle and gravel and rocks covered the park’s playground.

Three of the park’s maintenance vehicles were swept down the river, and the park lost “a lot of big trees,” Erlanson said. The park’s campground area and cabins, however, survived the storm mostly unscathed.

The Blanco River itself looked calm and green two weeks after the floods, and a few miles upstream of the park a dozen or so people swam in it.

Blue Hole in Wimberley to reopen Saturday after floods

Noelle Brimble, 14, of Austin, cools off at  Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, in this 2011 file photo.  (Austin American-Statesman/Rodolfo Gonzalez)
Noelle Brimble, 14, of Austin, cools off at Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, in this 2011 file photo. (Austin American-Statesman/Rodolfo Gonzalez)

A glimmer of good news from Wimberley – beloved Blue Hole Regional Park survived the floods without major damage.

The Blue Hole in Wimberley will open to the public on Saturday. (Larry Kolvoord/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
The Blue Hole in Wimberley will open to the public on Saturday. (Larry Kolvoord/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Officials plan to reopen the popular cypress-lined swimming hole to the public Saturday. Right now, they’re still letting the grassy area surrounding the creek, which is still slightly squishy, dry out.

And if you’ve seen pictures on Facebook allegedly showing the park in a state of destruction, pay no mind. Photos making the rounds via social media aren’t of the Blue Hole, says park manager Lauren Shrum.

“The park fared well,” Shrum says. “We had flooding in the swimming area, but nowhere near the amount of water or force that the Blanco (River) suffered. No trees were damaged and we had minimal damage to our dock.”

That’s because Cypress Creek – and not the Blanco River – forms the shady swimming oasis. The water rose about 5 feet above flood level on May 23, but receded later that night. It flooded a second time on Memorial Day, but again receded.

Ryan Dike swings into the Blue Hole in this file photo. (Alberto Martinez / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Ryan Dike swings into the Blue Hole in this file photo. (Alberto Martinez / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The rest of the 126-acre park, which includes playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, picnic areas, a basketball court and pavilion, is already open. Admission is $9 ($5 for youth, seniors and military).

Opening of Mabel Davis and Metz pools delayed

Repairs to Mabel Davis Pool have been slowed by recent rains.  (Rodolfo Gonzalez / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Repairs to Mabel Davis Pool have been slowed by recent rains. (Rodolfo Gonzalez / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The opening of Mabel Davis and Metz pools have been delayed.

Austin Parks and Recreation Department had considered temporarily closing the pools this summer because they have leaks, but later decided to try to repair the problems.

The repairs were delayed by the recent floods, according to spokeswoman Shelley Parks. Crews were draining Mabel Davis municipal pool to make repairs, but heavy rains kept filling it back up. At Metz neighborhood pool, the pool pump was submerged in flood waters and must be replaced.

Parks could not estimate when the pools might open, but said crews are working hard to open both facilities.

Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps kick off next week

Participants in the Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps will swim, bike and run every day.
Participants in the Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps will swim, bike and run every day.

Got a budding triathlete at your house?

Pro triathlete Desiree Ficker of Austin will share her expertise at week-long Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps this month.

The skill-based camps are open to ages 7 to 16 (participants will be divided into two age groups – 7-10 and 11-16). Campers will swim, bike and run every day, and participate in a sprint triathlon on Friday. An awards ceremony will cap the week.

Kinga Parrish participates in Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps.
Kinga Parrish participates in Fit Fickers Summer Tri Camps.

Ficker, a professional triathlete and runner, is well-known in the local fitness scene. A former University of Alabama champion duathlete, her career highlights include placing second at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and 10th in the New York City Marathon.

Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at St. Stephens Episcopal School, 6500 St. Stephens Drive. Two sessions are offered – June 8-12 or June 15-19. Participants must be able to swim 50 yards continuously, ride a bike without training wheels and run a half mile.

Cost is $350 per week, with a discount for siblings. To register go here.