BENNINGTON —In order to raise money for the Hiland Hall school, Stark Naturals is encouraging families to get healthier and more active with "The Great Fitness Challenge."

An individual or team first comes up with a challenging activity, fitness or wellness related, such as running more miles or meditating longer. Between now and Oct. 29 the participant must raise money for their challenge or recruit sponsors. On the end date, there will be an event at Stark Naturals for participants to come in, donate their funds and perform their challenge.

Stark Naturals is a wellness studio that offers fitness classes, education activities and product making opportunities such as homemade soap. It moved from Brattleboro to Manchester in the spring.

The owner, Lissa Stark, sits on Hiland Hall's board of directors and came up with the idea for the fundraiser from her knowledge of a reading challenge.

"Back when I went to school we had things called reading challenges that would prompt you to read books," Stark said. "At [Hiland Hall] we were thinking of ways to fundraise that would be fun and family friendly. It's kind of like a reading challenge but people sponsor the participants and work toward the goal."


Another family friendly fundraiser that the school holds is the annual Soup Stock in March that includes and auction, music, dancing and homemade soups and bread.

Hiland Hall director Meg Cottam said she's excited about the event and hopes to raise a few hundred dollars. Stark set a general goal for $500, but said she hopes to raise more.

"We're really excited about this fundraiser which is Lissa's brain child and a great way to raise money for the school while supporting healthy lifestyles," Cottam said in an email. "Even though Lissa is a board member, I think this really comes from a genuine place of parental support for Hiland Hall School and its programs."

Stark's challenge suggestions include rowing two miles on the rowing machine, learning three new yoga poses to teach others, burning 500 calories on the elliptical, inventing two exercises utilizing a peanut ball, learn how to do a cartwheel, do 60 push-ups in 30 minutes, prepare a healthy snack and hold a handstand for 20 seconds.

Participants can make up their own challenge and do one or several, Stark said.

"I am hoping that this event brings people's awareness to health, wellness and fitness in a fun way because some of the challenges I've heard people talking about is fun challenges," she said. "We want them to find something they want to do; a goal they want to have personally or as a team and try to reach that goal and have fun doing it."

On Oct. 29 participants can visit Stark Naturals between noon and 5 p.m. at 2434 Depot St. in Manchester to complete the challenge and submit donations. Participants will receive a free water bottle.

Hiland Hall is a progressive primary and middle school in Bennington.

For more information email or call 802-447-6597.

Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.