Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System Brings Nationally Recognized Children’s Fitness Program to the Community

Students at Simpsonville Elementary @ Morton Place are getting a power workout in strength, fitness and flexibility training, thanks to a new state-of-the-art fitness equipment, made possible by a partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System.

Project Fit America (PFA), a national, nonprofit organization, is dedicated to improving children’s health by making fitness part of the everyday school experience. Simpsonville Elementary @ Morton Place is the first school in Greenville County to be selected as a PFA model school.

The outdoor fitness equipment includes parallel bars, pull up bars, a vault bar, sit-up and step-up stations, and a pole climbing station. Indoor mobile fitness equipment, a dynamic curriculum which includes fitness games and challenges, onsite teacher training and lesson plans for classroom instruction on smoking intervention, nutrition, and understanding the body round out the program. The outdoor fitness stations are also available to the community after school hours.

“This partnership has allowed our school to have an outstanding fitness program for our students. At all grade levels, children will be involved in lessons that promote movement, fitness, and full engagement of their PE time while having unbelievable fun!” said Simpsonville Elementary Principal Jan James. “We are very appreciative of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System for providing the tools our children need to live healthier lives and to enjoy the benefits that exercise provides to their bodies.”

To determine the impact of the program, Simpsonville Elementary will collect data over the next two years to measure strength, aerobic capacity, cardiovascular endurance, and other components of a healthy body, using pre- and post-data to analyze the effectiveness of the program. Fitness testing results reported by PFA schools across the country show an average increase of:

“Bringing Project Fit America to Simpsonville Elementary is in line with St. Francis’s commitment to build healthy communities,” said Natalie Dougherty, St. Francis Health Outreach Coordinator. “Our mission is to be ‘good help to those in need’; PFA helps children become more involved in choosing fitness activities over sedentary lifestyles.”
“Not only does the fitness equipment provide children with exercise, but the Project Fit America curriculum allows the entire school faculty to play a role in making the school a healthier place for children to learn,” said Penny Bostain, District consultant for comprehensive health education.

Simpsonville Elementary @ Morton Place has had a strong fitness program since 1981 when the Simpsonville Skippers jump-rope demonstration team was introduced. Today, students continue to use advanced jump-rope skills to promote a healthy lifestyle. SES students perform at high school and college half-time shows and participate in the Simpsonville Christmas parade. 

The Need:
Childhood obesity is a serious problem among American children. Today’s children are the first generation whose life expectancy is estimated to be shorter than that of their parents. South Carolina ranks high in heart disease, stroke, and Type II diabetes, all of which are serious chronic diseases associated with obesity.

The Benefits:
Statistics show that healthier, fit students have better attendance, better focus, and better academic performance. Living physically fit helps youth avoid health problems through preventative health measures. Learning to value physical fitness as a child helps the student continue to value physical fitness as a growing adult. Elementary schools that provide a positive wellness environment provide important support to help students choose to be physically active at school and away from school.


Natalie Dougherty
Health Outreach Coordinator
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Susan Clarke
Communications Coordinator
Greenville County Schools

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