With a grant from Baptist Health Paducah, Benton Elementary School this fall will launch Project Fit America, a fitness program aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
Benton is the sixth area school to win the $16,500 grant from Baptist Health for indoor and outdoor fitness equipment, teacher training and curriculum materials. Paducah’s McNabb Elementary and Graves County’s Central Elementary were awarded the program in 2007; Lone Oak Elementary, 2009; Concord Elementary, 2011; and Clark Elementary, 2012.
Principal Diane Barga said the school is excited to partner with Baptist Health and Project Fit America.
“As a regional hospital, Baptist Health sets the tone to encourage us to be proactive about our health,” Barga said. “We have to be the ones to set the example to our students, so they will have a lifelong awareness of good health.”
Dona Rains, Baptist Health marketing and planning director, said the program exemplifies the hospital’s focus on health. “Since 1953, Western Baptist has built a foundation for good health in our community,” she said. “Now our new name, Baptist Health, reiterates that dedication to community education and disease prevention. Taking Project Fit into our area elementary schools helps children build good lifelong habits for healthy lifestyles.”
Physical education teacher Kim Crowell said the new outdoor equipment will provide more options for the school’s 600 students. The school already has a running club and other fitness initiatives. “This will allow more students to be active,” Crowell said. “Not every student chooses to join the running club, but all students come to P.E. twice a week and can take advantage of this new equipment.”
Assistant principal Lorrie Booth believes Project Fit will benefit students who often spend too much time watching TV and playing video games. “It’s nice to have a community partner who cares enough about our kids to help us make sure they have the knowledge on how to be healthy and fit,” Booth said.
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) is a national nonprofit charity that provides exemplary cardiovascular health and fitness programming to schools. Its mission is to create new opportunities for kids to be active, fit and healthy by providing vital resources and support for physical education one schoolyard at a time. For more information, visit http://www.projectfitamerica.org.