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WESLACO – Summer vacation is just around the corner, and so is Knapp Medical Center’s annual Family Fun, Fitness & a Film series.

The series, which is free and open to the public and aims to help improve the health and quality of life of mid-Valley residents, starts Thursday, June 2 at 7 p.m. at Weslaco City Park. The series runs through July 28, and during the weekly events, participants are given pedometers to track their walking regimens around the track at the park. Local residents who log the most miles are eligible for prizes at the conclusion of the series.

This is the fifth year Knapp has organized the Family Fun, Fitness & a Film event, and Knapp Community Relations Coordinator Sheila Shidler said the series has continued to grow each year.

“Knapp Medical Center is committed to taking good care of our community, be it in the hospital or at community events such as this one.” she said.

Shidler said that while there is an entertainment aspect to the Family Fun, Fitness & a Film series, the goal of the project is to help mid-Valley residents make better choices when it comes to their health and fitness.

“We want to see our community enjoying being outside and breathing some fresh air,” she said. “Taking a walk in the park with other people from the mid-Valley is a great way to meet your neighbors and improve your health at the same time. Then stay around and enjoy the movies and the fun.”

Weslaco resident Rosie Villalpando has attended the last four summer series, and said it is the perfect opportunity to spend time with her grandchildren and four nephews.

“We go for the walk and stay for the movies,” she said. “We go so that way the kids aren’t just at the house doing nothing during the summer. They get out and get some exercise and we can spend time together as a family. When I get off work, I stop by my mom’s house and they’re already asking me when we’re going to go to the park. Sometimes I don’t have the energy, but they really motivate me.”

For Villalpando, however, Family Fun, Fitness & a Film isn’t all about fun and games. She said that last year she made the decision to get healthy for her both herself and her family. By signing up for a healthy lifestyle program and attending last summer’s walking events, she said she lost more than 30 pounds.

“Losing weight and getting healthy is all up to you,” she said. “If you want to get healthy, you have to make the effort yourself. (Family Fun, Fitness & a Film) is a great opportunity. It’s free, and it gives you the chance to get out there and meet people and have fun. If you don’t want to walk by yourself, you can easily get a group together and go walking.”