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Wellness Day at Madawaska Elementary School promotes health, self-defense

MADAWASKA, Maine — Students from the Madawaska Elementary School participated in Wellness Day on Friday to promote health and wellness, including self-defense.

Kindergartner Adeline Migneault gives a mighty punch to Louis Desjardins, a supervising officer for Customs and Border Protection, during Wellness Day June 5 at Madawaska Elementary School. Desjardins wears a padded suit as he shows Migneault and other youngsters self-defense tactics. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

The elementary school had activities ranging from hiking excursions, puppy pens and bunny boxes for stress relief, healthy eating demonstrations, bike safety, self-defense, and snack time. Customs and Border Protection officers assisted with many of the presentations, including sugar counting and stranger-danger self-defense.

During the beginning of the kindergarten class presentation, Officer Jodie Theriault pulled out a poster board with six empty bottled beverages attached to it. Under each bottle was a plastic sandwich bag.

“Who thinks they know how much sugar is in all of these?” Theriault asked the class.

Kindergartner Aiden Goupille gives a one-two punch to Louis Desjardins, a supervising officer for Customs and Border Protection, during Wellness Day June 5 at Madawaska Elementary School. Desjardins wears a padded suit as he shows Goupille and other youngsters self-defense tactics. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

Hands shot up and she called on Sierra Smith to guess how much sugar was in one bottle of vitamin water. Theriault used sugar packets to count units of sugar and told Smith to add however many packets of sugar she thought was in the beverage into the bag underneath. Smith guessed seven and was short by about 12 packets of sugar which amazed the class.

“Making healthy food choices can have an effect on moral decisions, and encourage kids to work hard to achieve their goals,” Theriault said. “If they have the energy to work hard, there is nothing they can’t accomplish, and I believe that diet is a big part of that.”

After the sugar demonstration, the officers had the students do various exercises at different stations before ending at the Red Man. The Red Man this year was Louis Desjardins, a supervising officer for Customs and Border Protection. While the Red Man is the name of the training tactic and padded suit used to help teach self-defense, the red suit has since been retired and replaced with a black suit, yet the name remains.

Kindergartner Kaleigh Carter floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee as she attacks Louis Desjardins, a supervising officer for Customs and Border Protection, during Wellness Day June 5 at Madawaska Elementary School. Desjardins wears a padded suit as he shows Carter and other youngsters self-defense tactics. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

“Some of them even impressed me and that’s good,” Desjardins said after he withstood his share of kindergarteners kicks and punches during the training exercise. “If there is anybody trying to do harm, [the students] know they can defend themselves, and that they can fight off intruders and get help.”

Theriault and Desjardins both said that they were more than happy to visit the students and help with Wellness Day at the elementary school.

“They are such a great bunch of kids, with a really strong, supportive community behind them,” Theriault said. “I know they will all do great things.”

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