The idea is to promote healthy bodies for healthy minds, and representatives from the Elizabethton City School System, Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health Foundation were on for a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting and a demonstration by students of exercises on the school’s new outdoor fitness equipment in the Fit Pit.
“We are focused on helping our students live up to their potential in all areas of life,” West Side Principal John Wright said. “If they are healthy, they will perform better in whatever they attempt. The Project Fit America grant fits perfectly with the health initiatives we have already started here at West Side to help lead our students to healthier lifestyles.”
According to a school system news release, the goal of Project Fit is for students to take personal responsibility for their health, which improves their physical well-being as well as academic performance. Project Fit enhances children’s physical education, going beyond traditional fitness programs and gym classes with fun and intense activities that help students build social skills, character and sportsmanship.
The program features state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests and a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges. The academic curriculum also creates “physically educated” children and empowers them to take personal responsibility of their health with enthusiasm. It also provides support to the schools for two years, along with on-site training for each physical education teacher.
Project Fit America was made possible at West Side by a grant from the foundation and children’s hospital, the regional affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health Foundation are committed to helping the children of the Appalachian Highlands become healthy adults,” Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation, said. “We are pleased, through our affiliation with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, to be able to fund Project Fit America Programs in two schools this year — one in Elizabethton and one in Abingdon, Virginia.
“As Ballad Health becomes an exemplar on how to improve population health, it’s our children who are learning how to enjoy an active lifestyle on these playgrounds who will help us lead the way.”
Since 2000, the health system has made it possible for at least one regional school to launch Project Fit every year.
“Research does show that not only is physical education important for a child’s physical development, it actually helps kids read and learn math. Physically active kids are better learners. Quality fitness in education has a direct impact not only a child’s health, but their academic success,” Stacey Cook, Project Fit America executive director, said. “We are extremely proud of our partnership with Niswonger Children’s Hospital as the Appalachian Highlands’ regional affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for their commitment to bring this program to the community and for their dedication to improving the health and wellness of children.”
To learn more about Project Fit America, go to www.projectfitamerica.org.