A $25,000 grant has brought fitness equipment to Westhampton Beach Elementary School.
Thanks to a partnership between Peconic Bay Medical Center and Project Fit America, a new “fit pit,” as it’s being dubbed, has been installed on the far west side of the campus between the soccer and baseball fields.
“There’s a strong correlation between healthy and fit students and academics, so we’re very excited to begin this journey with Project Fit,” said school president Lisa Slover during a reveal of the installation October 4.
Project Fit America is a nonprofit that funds fitness programs for schools with the goal of helping children make healthy lifestyle choices.
Students demonstrated the equipment at the different stations during the unveiling, including pull-ups, chin-ups, flex arm hangs, and inverted pull-ups on the pull-up bars; leg lifts, inverted dips, and inverted pushups on the sit-up bench; hand-to-hand grip exercises on the horizontal ladder; jumps on the vault bar; cardio and leg exercises on the step-ups; and full-body conditioning on the pole climb.
“This will build strong bodies and minds,” athletic director Kathy Masterson said. “I’m so proud to be a part of a community that never ceases to amaze me at their generosity to our students’ wellbeing.”
Slover and physical education teacher Drew Peters spearheaded the grant application process. Peters said the goal is for students to be educated on how to lead an active and healthy lifestyle in a positive environment.
“We wish for our students to show kindness, compassion, and respect toward one another throughout the school day, and have the capability to lead with a healthy mind and body, too,” he said.
“Receiving this grant means that our students and our community members will be able to learn and practice different ways to become both mentally and physically fit. Already within the first two weeks of our fit pit being installed we’ve had a countless number of current and former students out here utilizing the equipment,” Peters added.
Board of education president Suzanne Mensch said the placement couldn’t be any better — directly east of the school’s greenhouse.
“Over the last two years, you all have been working hard to incorporate healthy eating habits by being an active part of learning to grow and cultivate a variety of vegetables,” she said. “Now, you’ll be working to learn lifelong, healthy exercise habits as well.”
Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO and president Andy Mitchell surprised the school, along with East Quogue Elementary School, with the grants in June. Nine other schools on the East End have received the grant to date, the first being Riverhead back in 2013.
“It takes a village to do something like this, and this is a very, very special village,” Mitchell said. “I hope the children have a great, great experience with it. We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
In addition to the outdoor equipment, the school received weighted indoor equipment including medicine balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops, along with skeletons for educating about the muscular and skeletal systems. Teachers were trained on how to use the equipment and given a curriculum to follow.