Marshall County’s Central Elementary, the area’s 16th school to receive a fitness grant from Baptist Health Paducah, will start the 2018-2019 school year with new Project Fit America equipment and curriculum to improve the health of students and staff.
Baptist Health leaders surprised Central principal Tad Mott and PE teacher Christopher Buford with the Project Fit America grant announcement today.
“As we celebrate Heart Month, it is appropriate to announce this program designed to build lifelong healthy habits for this community of 500 students and staff,” said Chris Roty, Baptist Health Paducah president.
The two-year $16,500 grant provides Project Fit America outdoor fitness equipment, designed to address areas where children need help to pass fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges; on-site teacher training; and in-class instruction on smoking intervention and nutrition.
“Baptist Health provides this program in local schools to reduce childhood obesity before it causes hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions, affecting the heart health of our communities for years to come,” Roty said. “Since 2007, we have awarded 15 schools in four counties, hoping to change lifestyle habits for generations, one neighborhood at a time.”
Mott, a vegetarian and marathon runner, said the school applied for the grant because of its “real world” and long-term applications. “Much of the curriculum we teach might never be used on a daily basis when our students are in the real world,” the principal said, “but I believe instilling a healthy lifestyle now will benefit them every single day, no matter what they end up doing in life.”
In addition, fitness helps students improve their school performance, he said. “I value research, and the research is clear: Healthy lifestyles help create scholars ready to learn. When I see students who get little to no exercise or are overweight, I feel a burden to teach these values now. For many, it could very well be a matter of life or death,” Mott said.
The other 15 schools are: Paducah’s McNabb Elementary and Graves County’s Central Elementary, 2007; Lone Oak Elementary, 2009; Concord Elementary, 2011; Clark Elementary, 2012; Benton Elementary, 2013; Calvert City Elementary and East Calloway Elementary, 2014; Morgan Elementary, Heath Elementary and Reidland Intermediate, 2015; Hendron-Lone Oak Elementary, 2016; and Lowes, Symsonia and Wingo elementary schools in Graves County, 2017.
Baptist Health Paducah also funds GoNoodle fitness video programming for all 59 elementary schools in Kentucky’s 13 most western counties.
Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,700 employees and 240 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. It opened in 1953 as Western Baptist Hospital and recently changed its name, along with other facilities in Baptist Health, one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in Kentucky. For information, see BaptistHealthPaducah.com.
Project Fit America (PFA) PFA is a national nonprofit organization that creates sustainable and innovative broad based fitness programs in schools. PFA programming includes state-of-the-art outdoor fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges; on-site teacher training and in-class instruction on subjects such as smoking intervention, nutrition and understanding your body. PFA is in its 28th year of working with more than 1,100 schools in over 300 cities in 46 states. Schools report increased motivation, participation and physical improvements in their students, along with parents and faculty becoming more involved in choosing fitness activities over sedentary lifestyle habits. For more information, visit http://www.projectfitamerica.org.