The ninth Kentucky school to benefit from a Baptist Health partnership to fight childhood obesity will launch its fitness program Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Benton Elementary is the latest recipient of the Project Fit America fitness program, following a similar kickoff ceremony Friday, Sept. 13, at Lakewood Elementary in Cecilia.
Baptist Health has partnered with Project Fit America since 2007. “Teaching and inspiring children to make healthy choices and incorporate fitness into their lives is key to our mission of enhancing the health of the people and communities we serve,” said Baptist Health CEO Steve Hanson.
Stacey Cook, executive director of Project Fit America, said Baptist Health is the flagship sponsor for Kentucky. “It is a delight to work with a corporate sponsor so passionate about our youth’s fitness and devoted to their health,” she said.
Project Fit America is a non-profit, public charity that encourages exercise and fitness among the country’s youth. In its 23 years, it has implemented the program in 870 schools in 300 cities in 43 states. The two-year program includes teacher training and curriculum resources, as well as indoor and outdoor exercise equipment.
Baptist Health Paducah began the program in 2007 at McNabb Elementary in Paducah and Graves Central Elementary in Mayfield. It has since added programs at Lone Oak Elementary, Concord Elementary and Clark Elementary – all in Paducah – before expanding to Benton this year.
“This kind of community involvement is just one example of Baptist Paducah’s rich legacy of serving and caring for the community,” said Bill Brown, new West Regional Executive. “It’s a special honor to take care of the health of the people we are privileged to serve through this educational opportunity.”
Bonnie Schrock, chief administrative officer at Baptist Health Paducah, said the hospital looked several years ago at a variety of programs to address childhood obesity. “We decided that the best place to start was in the earliest grades, neighborhood by neighborhood,” she said. “And we liked that this program was not just a playground. We train teachers and provide the resources they need to continue integrating fitness into their daily lessons long after the two-year grant expires.”
Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown, managed by Baptist Health, launched the program last week at the Cecilia location.
“Our partnership with Project Fit America to fund this program at Lakewood Elementary speaks to our continued commitment to put forth both healthcare services and wellness education in our community,” said Dennis Johnson, president of Hardin Memorial Health.
Meanwhile, Baptist Health Corbin started the program last year at Corbin Intermediate and this year at Corbin Middle School. President Larry Gray said adults have a personal reason for keeping kids fit — in part because they will be the caregivers of the future. “So I have an investment in keeping you healthy and strong,” Gray said.
Corbin Intermediate Principal Bill Jones said “As a regional hospital, Baptist Health sets the tone to encourage us to be proactive about our health.” Jones said, “We have to be the ones to set the example to our students, so they will have a lifelong awareness of good health.”
Kentucky’s Baptist Health (formerly Baptist Healthcare System), headquartered in Louisville, owns seven acute-care hospitals with more than 2,100 licensed beds in Corbin, La Grange, Lexington, Louisville, Madisonville, Paducah and Richmond. An eighth facility, Oak Tree, is a long-term, acute-care hospital in Corbin. Baptist Health manages Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown and Russell County Hospital in Russell Springs.