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Roseville students benefit from ‘fit pit’

Junction Elementary School gets a $45,000 grant for new P.E. equipment
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Students at Junction Elementary School in Roseville recently celebrated a special gift that gives them the tools to be active and healthy every day.

The school received a $45,000 grant from Sutter Roseville Medical Center for Project Fit America outdoor and indoor physical education equipment to support students’ health needs.

The school hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday to showcase the equipment, which includes parallel bars, pull-up bars, a horizontal ladder, hula hoops and more.

“You don’t have to belong to a gym or anything,” said P.E. teacher Rob Schmalenberger. “We had the gym brought to the school.”

Schmalenberger and fellow P.E. teacher Revee Smith received training in the Project Fit program and equipment, which are intended to improve a child’s upper and lower body strength, abdominal muscles, coordination, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, social and thinking skills, and nutrition.

“The fit pit is here for you to be healthy,” said Principal Carrie Vincent. “You can even bring your parents and show them how to do it on the weekends.”

Since 1980, obesity among youth 6 to 19 years old has tripled, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Today, 12.5 million kids are overweight in this country — roughly 17 percent.

Non-activity among kids can also lead to lack of self-esteem, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior in the classroom and experimentation with unsafe diet practices, such as diet pills and purging.

Project Fit America formed in 1990 to donate physical education programs to schools. The programming includes equipment designed to address areas where children fail fitness tests.

Teachers are provided with supplemental curriculum, training and in-class instruction on smoking intervention, nutrition and understanding the body.

Fitness testing results reported by recipient schools show an average increase of 44.9 percent in upper body strength, 14.7 percent in abdominal strength and 11.2 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance, according to a Project Fit press release.

The nonprofit organization has donated to more than 800 schools in 40 states. Hospitals have contributed more than $10 million to sponsor the programs.

In June, volunteers with Creekside Church in Rocklin helped dig up some grass behind Junction Elementary School and build the bark box for the new equipment.

“This is a great community partnership all because we love you Jaguars and we want you to be healthy,” Vincent told her students.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.