Project Fit grant funds exercise equipment, curriculum for Jackson (VIDEOS)

Rick Wagner • Oct 9, 2016 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — New playground/exercise equipment funded by a grant went into use at Jackson Elementary just before fall break, giving students what school and Wellmont Foundation officials hope is the kick-start of a lifelong course for better health.

The Wellmont Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network hospitals have partnered with Project Fit America, a national nonprofit, to provide Jackson with a grant for fitness education, including new equipment installed in an area inside the walking track to the east of the school. The kickoff and ribbon cutting took place Thursday afternoon.


Aside from climbing, jumping and other equipment, the $15,000 grant paid for a wood chip-covered area and Hula Hoops, which physical education teacher Lindsay Statum used for an impromptu contest between adults and two children. She wrote the grant application that won the money.

The children, the Fall Festival King and Queen Billy Claman of fourth grade and Chrishyra Bunch of fifth grade, won hands down over Wellmont Foundation director of community support Clay Rolston, Principal Krissy Turner and Superintendent Lyle Ailshie.


The fitness equipment upgrades focus on areas in which children tend to fail fitness tests. In addition, Project Fit has furnished the school with a comprehensive fitness education model specialized for physical education teachers. The curriculum includes games, activities and challenges that incorporate the new equipment.

“I don’t get a chance to thank you teachers enough,” Ailshie said of Statum and her colleagues at Jackson and across the school system. “When your body is fit, your mind is more fit.” He told the entire student body, gathered for the event, that he was in week 13 of a 16-week training regimen to run in a half-marathon later this month, but that it gets harder to be physically active as you age.

First Broad Street United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Harrison Bell told the group the church helps the school with tutoring and clothing needs because it wants students to grow up to be productive community members. School officials also touted The Leader In Me initiative, which teaches students leadership skills and practices that dovetail into the Project Fit and church initiatives.

“At Wellmont Health System, 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,” Todd Norris, Wellmont’s senior vice president for system development and the foundation’s president, said in a statement.

The foundation has partnered with Project Fit since 2000 and has been responsible for raising needed Children’s Miracle Network funds each year to purchase fitness equipment for selected schools. Other schools in the area served include Roosevelt Elementary, also in the city system, as well as schools in Sullivan County, Johnson City, Bristol, Tenn., Scott County and other locations in Southwest Virginia, said Anita Campbell, the foundation’s assistant director of development and Miracle Network liaison.

Statum said Campbell was instrumental in acquiring the grant.

Wellmont has been the region’s Children’s Miracle Network affiliate for nearly 30 years, and all money raised in this area is used by Wellmont to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for its pediatric departments, neonatal intensive care unit and emergency departments and to fund community partnerships that advance children’s health.

Area Project Fit programs have already seen success in battling health issues. At Holston View Elementary School in Bristol, which received the grant in 2013, Wellmont officials said students’ fitness testing showed a 22 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance, a 108 percent increase in upper body strength and a 49 percent increase in abdominal strength.

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