Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Josant Barrientos

Youth Olympics Challenges 31 Days of Health


Story by Tiffany Doss

This year, Potomac’s annual Youth Olympics that usually draws more than 1,500 participants to Shenandoah Valley Academy’s campus in New Market, Va., looked a little different. “We were not able to do our regularly scheduled Olympics Games, due to COVID-19,” explains Youth Director Josant Barrientos, “but that is not an excuse to not exercise and take care of our bodies!”

Instead of a one-day event, the Olympics grew into a 31-day Health and Spiritual Challenge. “The program encouraged participants to spend time with God and exercise their bodies, applying the Eight Natural Remedies,” says Barrientos. “The challenge included reading a chapter of Proverbs each day, and doing a different set of daily exercises. Each Sabbath, youth were encouraged to spend an hour or more alone with God.”

In order to qualify for prizes and receive points, every day the 500-plus participants, ranging from ages 5 to 70-plus, logged their activities online and posted to social media what they learned in their Bible reading for the day.

“Our intent with doing the Olympics this way was to motivate our young people to be more physically and spiritually active and mindful,” says Barrientos. “Many young people are not good at ‘unplugging.’”

Barrientos says this event also opened new doors and strengthened family units, with families participating in reading the Bible and exercising together. As a result of this challenge, several youth have started taking Bible studies and others have made decisions to be baptized in the coming months.

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