Casey-Westfield Celebrates Project Fit America Kick-Off

September 12, 2012 1:47 p.m.

Casey-Westfield Junior High School will kick-off its Project Fit America program with a community-wide celebration set for 9:30 am Friday, September 21, at the school. The public is invited to attend.

During the festive ceremony, students will participate in a fitness demonstration using the school’s new outdoor equipment for the first time. The demonstration will be led by Physical Education teacher Chris Seaton, who recently completed training in the Project Fit program and equipment. The program is intended to improve a child’s upper and lower body strength, abdominal muscles, coordination, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, social and thinking skills, and nutrition.

Casey-Westfield is the third area school to be awarded a grant for the national public fitness program, which is funded by The Casey State Bank and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation. The program aims to help students make activity, fitness and health a part of their everyday school experience.

“We saw a need a couple of years ago to promote physical activity and provide more opportunities for kids to be active,” Casey-Westfield Jr. High Principal, Carol Wetherell, said. “Our students have 45 minutes of physical education each day and we’re excited to enhance our curriculum with Project Fit America.”

The Casey State Bank is also lending its support as a major donor in partnership with Sarah Bush Lincoln. “Being a community bank we have a vested interest in the future of our children and we know that by promoting healthy habits with our youth, we can make a lifelong difference in the health of our communities,” Bank Vice-President Bruce Brown said. “The Casey State Bank is proud to support Project Fit America in its efforts to promote physical fitness in our schools.”

Project Fit America provides indoor and outdoor fitness equipment, teacher training and physical education curriculum support. The outdoor equipment is free and open so the community may use it as well. “Our gym is already open every morning for walkers, so we hope some will take advantage of the new equipment as well,” Wetherell said. The equipment will also be used by elementary school children and students at Casey-Westfield High School.

“Project Fit America will help make a difference in many kids’ lives,” Wetherell added. “Our goal is to teach our students to have a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity and to give them the knowledge to put all aspects of fitness and nutrition into their daily lives and the lives of their families,” she said.

The equipment is specifically designed to target areas in which children generally fail fitness tests, focusing on lower body, abdominal, upper body and cardiovascular endurance. The outdoor equipment includes devices such as the horizontal ladder, sit-up station and parallel bars, while the indoor devices include weighted hula hoops and stacking cups, among others.

The program reinforces fun fitness, Wetherell said. “It’s not boring. It’s not just doing sit-ups or pushups or playing basketball. We are just as excited about the indoor curriculum. I’m impressed with the way the program engages kids in physical activity without them realizing it. They are simply having fun. I can’t wait to see it in action.”

The curriculum is designed to increase the amount of time children are active on a weekly basis, while teaching students responsibility for their overall health, teamwork, sportsmanship and how to build self-esteem as well as lessons on nutrition and other health-related topics.

Schools throughout East Central Illinois were invited to apply for the Project Fit America grant. Project Fit America provides physical fitness equipment along with a broad-based exercise curriculum designed to increase physical activity and reduce obesity. Project Fit America, a nationwide program recognized by the General Surgeon, is located in 730 schools in 40 states across America.

Kansas, Illinois is the charter Project Fit America School for this region. Kansas received its fitness equipment and curriculum in the 2008-2009 school year, while Neoga Middle School received funding for the program in 2010-2011 school year.

For more information on Project Fit America, call Suzanne Logue, Manager, Healthy Communities at (217) 258-4195.

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