SARASOTA — When Katherine Cottrell started at New College of Florida three years ago, the New Mexico native didn’t know much about the off-campus community.
Thanks to the Fun and Fitness Expo sponsored by New College and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Cottrell became acclimated with the Sarasota and Bradenton community as she attended the past three events. Last year, Cottrell learned how to rock climb and this year is hoping to learn how to ballroom dance.
“I love it,” she said. “Every time it is a little different.”
The annual Fun and Fitness Expo, held Wednesday outside the Counseling and Wellness Center, is in its fourth year and has grown every year, said Erin Robinson, event co-chairwoman. There were about 50 vendors the first year and about 80 vendors at Wednesday’s free expo, Robinson added.
“It allows students and the community to take the afternoon off and have fun,” she said.
Vendors included YouFit, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Humane Society of Manatee County, Smoothie King, Mixon Fruit Farms, TreeUmph! Adventure Course, Rosemary Court Yoga and Suncoast Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Advocacy Leadership Support Outreach Youth, a resource center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender intersex and questioning youth ages 13-21, is able to create awareness through the expo for services they offer, said ALSO Youth Executive Director Donna Hanley.
“This is a great campus and great event,” Hanley said.
Florida Department of Health in Manatee County’s booth revealed the smoking prevention work it has been doing.
“College kids smoke, too, and second-hand smoke kills more people than smoking,” said Tiffany Donley, community health educator at the department.
New College and USF Sarasota-Manatee Police Department officer Kelley Fisher spoke with students about registering bikes, laptops and any other electronic with a serial number. In December, about 15 bikes were stolen and 70 percent were recovered because of the program, Fisher said.
“This is a great tool to be able to utilize that and get property back,” she said.
New College first-year student Sarah Olsen of Orlando said she likes seeing more people in the community.
“I don’t get off campus as much as I would like and gives me a good opportunity to see what’s out there,” she said.
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.