HSHS St. John’s Hospital officials join District 186 administrators, teachers and students to celebrate the launch of Project Fit America (PFA) at Feitshans Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 2 p.m.
The celebration includes a ribbon cutting and students demonstrating exercises at the school’s new outdoor fitness along with Superintendent Jennifer Gill, Mayor Langfelder, the Junior Blues and mascot Gilly, the University of Illinois Springfield mascot Orion and all the students in the school.
“At St. John’s Hospital, we’re passionate about improving wellness in the communities we serve, and we especially want to do our part in the fight against childhood obesity,” said Kimberly Luz, director of community outreach. “We’re thrilled to partner with Feitshans Elementary to empower these children and their families to learn healthy habits and enjoy healthier lives.”
All Feitshans students have been taught how to use the outdoor equipment and how the activity benefits their bodies, said physical education teacher Chad Deatherage. The PFA curriculum, including indoor and outdoor activity, addresses fitness areas such as upper body strength, coordination, flexibility and more. Deatherage noted the initiative goes beyond traditional fitness and is also is helping them build social skills, character and leadership skills.
St. John’s Hospital piloted PFA initiative in 2013 at Matheny-Withrow Elementary. The students love the program and teachers report a noticeable increase in their eagerness to participate. This is not your average gym class. The activities are both fun and intense.
The donation funded by St. John’s Hospital provides the PFA program to the school that includes: state-of-the-art fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; installation of the equipment, a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges for kids with the PFA outdoor & indoor equipment; the program also teaches character development, sportsmanship, team work and leadership skills. The academic emphasis is to create “physically educated” children and to empower them to take personal responsibility of their health with enthusiasm. PFA also provides support to the schools for two years along with on-site training with each PE Teacher.
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,” said Stacey Cook, Executive Director, “We are extremely proud of St. John’s Hospital for their commitment to bring this program to the community and for their dedication to improving the health and wellness of children.”