Nickelsville Elementary Unveils Project Fit America Fitness Facility
From staff reports
Children at another Scott County school now have a new robust fitness education program, setting them on a lifelong course for better health.
The Wellmont Foundation has partnered for another year with Project Fit America, a national non-profit charity, to provide Nickelsville Elementary School with a $17,000 grant for fitness education and equipment.
This is the fourth school in Scott County to receive the fitness equipment courtesy of the foundation. Other schools that earned the awards include Duffield Primary School, Weber City Elementary School and Yuma Elementary School.
“I hope these students will learn skills now that they can carry on for the rest of their lives,” said Lauren Hall, assistant director of development for Wellmont Foundation. “We feel that by teaching these kids healthy lifestyles at an early age that they can carry these habits on to their homes and communities.”
The school sponsored a special kick-off event Friday at 9 a.m. to celebrate the grant. They invited some special guests Scott County Superintendent John Ferguson, Assistant Superintendent Jason Smith and Twin Springs head basketball coach John McCrary to emphasize the importance of physical fitness.
Anna McClung, a senior at Gate City High School and ESPN’s Virginia Girls Soccer Player of the Year, was the guest speaker who shared her story of success with the students.
But the real star of the day was the new equipment itself as students demonstrated their physical prowess on their new fitness equipment.
“The community, Wellmont Foundation, teachers and administrators have all displayed a commitment to the students by putting forth the effort to get this project completed in order to emphasize the importance of being active, being fit and making healthy choice,” said Ferguson. “They are definitely heading in the right direction and we are very excited about this new facility.”
Nickelsville physical education teacher Jenny Gose has been involved in the process from the beginning and actually wrote the grant to get the ball rolling on the project.
A year ago, Gose applied for a grant in hopes of becoming a partner with Project Fit America. Through community, faculty, administration and Wellmont efforts, her dream became a reality.
“Because of Wellmont’s vision, we now have a fitness program for our students that encompasses state-of-the-art outdoor equipment, indoor mobile fitness equipment, lesson plans for all grades, muscular and flexibility challenges, food models, team work activities, support material and fitness music to get our students moving,” said Gose.
Along with Gose’s efforts, Nickelsville Principal Mike Lane helped install much of the outdoor fitness equipment, which was also made possible through a grant with Wal-Mart, a major supporter of Children’s Miracle Network. The retailer provided the school with supplies to create its new fitness area, as well as footing and a border to keep it secure.
“There was a lot of co-operation involved in this,” said Lane. “The Scott County Telephone Co-Op also deserves a lot of credit with this project and Joe Roberts, who directed the outdoor crew. It involved jack hammers, rock drills and a lot of sweat. Plus Mr. Robert Sallee sent some of the Scott County maintenance crew out here to help put all this equipment in place. It was really a month-long job.”
Project Fit furnished the school with an innovative, comprehensive fitness education model, which is specialized for Nickelsville Elementary’s physical education teachers. The program includes activities that address students’ self-esteem, smoking intervention, fun exercise and ways to understand one’s body.
“We are pleased and excited to continue our collaboration with Project Fit America as we work to improve the quality of life for our region’s children,” said Todd Norris, Wellmont’s senior vice president of system advancement. “This program is part of Wellmont’s long-term commitment to wellness throughout the region, which can begin with developing healthy habits at an early age.”
The foundation has partnered with Project Fit since 2000 and each year has been responsible for raising the funds through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to purchase the fitness equipment. As the affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, Wellmont has always viewed children’s health as a top priority.
“We applaud the Wellmont Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network for taking this leadership role to help kids become more fit and healthy,” said Stacey Cook, Project Fit’s executive director. “Physical education and fitness-related activities continue to be cut or poorly funded throughout the nation, at a time when childhood obesity and related illnesses are at epidemic levels.”
The goal for students is to take personal responsibility for their health. In addition, the program helps teachers to diffuse aggressive behavior in children through physical activities that cause the children to be more inclined to sit, listen and learn in the classroom.
The education program complements the new outdoor fitness equipment, which focuses on strength and cardiovascular health. Students will be able to use the equipment during gym classes and recesses.
“Our students now have a first class opportunity to join a nationwide effort to improve the health of our children,” added Gose. “With the Project Fit America curriculum, students and faculty have a chance to unite body and mind for health and academic success. I believe that a healthy body builds self-esteem. Whether learning to jump, pull, push, climb, kick or throw, the experience of success through physical movement stimulates interest for learning in the classroom.”
To learn more about Project Fit or this year’s celebration, call the foundation at (423) 230-8550.