Kids & Teens EXPO Bigger, Better In 2019

February 14, 2019

In the midst of all the excitement swirling around her in Bricker Hall at the Ohio Expo Center, as thousands of kids and teens jump rope, shoot arrows, race through obstacle courses, twirl batons, dance and sing, and roll in a giant Zorb ball, Lea Coburn likes to take a few moments to soak it all in.

“It’s so much fun and so rewarding to watch so many kids being exposed to and participating in sports they may not otherwise ever experience,” said Coburn, the director of the ever-expanding and always-entertaining Arnold SportsWorld Kids & Teens EXPO.

Providing fun and opportunity for thousands of kids, teens and their parents is what the EXPO is all about. “We’re growing and growing,” Coburn said. “We had 14,000 people come through the doors last year and this year we expect up to 20,000.”

And once all these tots to teens and their parents come through the doors of Bricker Hall on Saturday (March 2) and Sunday (March 3), they’ll find an amazing assortment of sports, activities, competitions and performances.

And, they might just get to meet Arnold.

“It was so awesome to get that experience,” said Zachary Zimmerman, 10, who competed in the Arnold’s Quest For Talent competition last year, and got to pose for a photo with the man he looks up to, figuratively and literally.

Something For Everyone

What keeps families coming back for more, and Coburn busy year round, is the amazing number of sports and activities available to try. There is something (many somethings actually) for everyone. And there’s always something new.

“This is all about family fitness, for the youth and for the old, for the men and women, everyone here can participate,” Arnold said last year from the big stage in the middle of Bricker Hall. He encouraged everyone to exercise every day “and make it a family affair.”

Some of the many highlights include a baton twirling championship, Warrior Workout demonstration, Jedi Fencing, Hip Hop dancing, Futsal Ball juggling, martial arts, bounce houses, bull riding, face painting and virtual reality video games.

“I’m looking around here and it’s like a giant paradise for kids,” said Joshua Perry, a former Ohio State star linebacker who attended last year’s EXPO and was part of a panel discussion on overcoming obstacles. “I’d like to try that,” he added, pointing toward the giant Zorb balls, also called hamster balls. “And the zip line. They look like a lot of fun.”

New In 2019

Coburn has spent the past several months coming up with new activities. “It’s so much fun to learn about and bring new sports to the EXPO,” she said.

For example: Archery Tag.

This new sport is becoming more and more popular. It pits two teams against one another, and the goal is to eliminate all the opposing players by hitting them with a soft, foam-tipped arrow. It combines the skill of archery and dodge ball.

And then there’s Speed cubing, a sport in which players compete to solve a variety of twisty puzzles, such as the Rubik’s Cube, as fast as they can. How fast? Often in less than 30 seconds. Really. How do they do it?

There will be horse races this year. Kind of.

“We’ll have Plush Pony Races,” Coburn said, and then explained: “They’re plush ponies that go up and down and you can ride them and have races. They’re two-feet high and four-feet high and a lot of fun.”

Also new this year is Buddy Up Tennis, a version of tennis designed for Down Syndrome kids and adults. “We want to be all-inclusive, to welcome everyone and have everyone participate,” Coburn said, adding special needs kids can take part in a wide variety of sports and activities at the EXPO. Coburn’s previous career was as a teacher and administrator. And now, she continues working with and for kids of all ages and needs in her second career with the Arnold.

For the builder in every kid, there’s a Legoland Discovery Center. Other new events this year include: The YMCA Family Fun Factory, Mascot Olympics, Great Photo Booth, Buckeye Mobile Tour and a Football Throw Competition hosted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Need a Ninja? We got ‘em. There will be an American Ninja Course in Bricker Hall where kids can release their inner Ninja. And, Michelle Warnky, one of the top female Ninjas on the popular TV show (and a Worthington, Ohio resident), will make an appearance on Sunday and maybe share some of her training secrets.

Need another challenge? Of course you do … and you can find it at the Warrior Games/Warrior Workout by Alignment Essentials.

“This is the fifth year for the Arnold SportsWorld Kids & Teens EXPO,” Coburn said. “We’re getting bigger and better every year. It’s kind of overwhelming to walk around and take it all in. And so much fun.”

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