County ‘Com­mits to be Fit’

‘Our win­ner lost 60.2 pounds and de­creased her body mass in­dex by 23 per­cent’

Rappahannock News - - NEWS • WASHINGTON - By Madi­son stevens Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News Madi­son Stevens, a se­nior at Rap­pa­han­nock County High School, is an Rap­pa­han­nock News

By all mea­sure­ments, Com­mit to be Fit in a short amount of time has be­come an es­sen­tial pro­gram for the Rap­pa­han­nock County com­mu­nity. The pro­gram not only of­fers free health and fit­ness classes to all Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dents of ev­ery age, its found­ing team is ex­tremely ac­tive in both the el­e­men­tary and high schools in pro­mot­ing ed­u­cated and healthy life­style choices.

The unique pro­gram, which has been in ex­is­tence barely a year, is school­spon­sored and grant-funded. In­deed, an im­pres­sive oneyear $250,000 grant was awarded to Com­mit to be Fit by the War­ren­ton-based non­profit grant­mak­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion PATH Foun­da­tion, with more sup­port in the pipe­line.

Classes are held at the high school and el­e­men­tary school, al­low­ing easy ac­cess to weekly work­shops and ex­er­cise. In­cred­i­bly, when the pro­gram be­gan, the or­ga­niz­ers had a goal of cre­at­ing just eight classes, work­shops and events. They couldn’t help but to laugh when they topped the 340 mark.

But the pro­gram’s ben­e­fi­cial im­pacts are best re­flected through the par­tic­i­pants.

“Our com­bined to­tals from the 2016-2017 6-Month Chal­lenge was 333.8 pounds lost and 522.45 inches lost,” says Com­mu­nity Well­ness Integration Spe­cial­ist Holly Jenk­ins. “Our win­ner lost a to­tal of 60.2 pounds, and lost 6.5 inches in chest mea­sure­ments, 10 inches in waist mea­sure­ments, and 8 inches in her hip mea­sure­ments. The win­ner also de­creased her body mass in­dex [BMI] by 23 per­cent.”

Com­mit to be Fit’s suc­cess thus far would not be pos­si­ble with­out the con­tri­bu­tions of Jenk­ins, Amanda Grove (Nu­tri­tion­ist/ Di­rec­tor of School Nu­tri­tion), Jackie Ted­er­ick (Well­ness Integration Co­or­di­na­tor), Jac­qui Lowe-Bar­ton (Well­ness Integration Spe­cial­ist), Shan­non Grim­s­ley (Su­per­in­ten­dent/C2BF Grant Writer and Re­searcher), and Stacey Whitt (Chief Fi­nan­cial Writer).

Grim­s­ley says the idea for Com­mit to be Fit ma­te­ri­al­ized two years ago, as a way to take on the chal­lenge of well­ness, health and nu­tri­tion in schools. But there wasn’t much money for ev­ery­thing the or­ga­niz­ers sought to ac­com­plish.

“We wanted to make it fun,” she points out, “and take on school food, class­room move­ment in reg­u­lar school day class­rooms, and also en­gage the com­mu­nity in fit­ness and tackle a com­mu­nity is­sue.”

Grove and Whitt play a ma­jor role in not only in­volv­ing the stu­dents, but ed­u­cat­ing them about mak­ing healthy life­style and food choices. The ladies work with nu­tri­tion demos and food sam­ples dis­trib­uted in the cafe­te­ria. Grove also works with nearby Water­penny Farm to ob­tain fresh pro­duce, which pro­vides de­li­cious menu op­tions — like hum­mus — for kids to try.

“All of the stu­dents were given sur­veys to see what pro­duce they liked the most and this got them ex­cited about eat­ing lo­cally be­cause they were all very in­volved,” Grove points out.

Lowe-Bar­ton works with stu­dents in the class­rooms, in­clud­ing help­ing them un­der­stand how im­por­tant it is to ac­com­plish at least 60 min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity each day. She is a li­censed teacher fo­cused on fit­ness, in­clud­ing ex­er­cise move­ments in the class­rooms dur­ing the school day.

Ted­er­ick’s con­nec­tion to the school sys­tem was vi­tal for the growth of the pro­gram. She spent 18 years teach­ing health and nu­tri­tion to high school stu­dents and is also a cer­ti­fied health coach and per­sonal trainer. With her ex­pe­ri­ence, she was able to get the high school­ers ex­cited and in­volved in the pro­gram.

Jenk­ins, mean­while, is a cer­ti­fied health coach and per­sonal trainer. Her pas­sion mo­ti­vated her to start a one-on-one busi­ness teach­ing clients to be health­ier and help­ing them through their weight-loss jour­ney.

It was Jenk­ins and Grim­s­ley who con­cen­trated on reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity — not to men­tion brain­storm­ing on how to raise the money to launch Com­mit to be Fit, which was no sim­ple feat. In the end, Grim­s­ley man­aged to pull ev­ery­thing to­gether and af­ter con­duct­ing a fair amount of re­search was able to write a pro­posal and se­cure the im­pres­sive $250,000 dol­lar first-year grant from the PATH Foun­da­tion.

Grim­s­ley says the en­tire team of ladies could not be more thank­ful for the gen­er­ous do­na­tion from PATH, as well as myr­iad con­tri­bu­tions of the com­mu­nity.

But it was the num­ber of com­mu­nity and staff mem­bers who be­came in­volved in Com­mit to be Fit, as well as their un­ex­pected ded­i­ca­tion to the classes and health plans, that sur­prised the or­ga­ni­za­tional team more than any­thing else.

The plans for the fu­ture are to grow, and then some. The pro­gram has new classes lined up such as MMA (mixed mar­tial arts) car­dio and group-strength train­ing. The team has also been work­ing with the Vir­ginia Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion, reach­ing out to se­nior cit­i­zens, and coach­ing the girls em­pow­er­ment pro­gram “Girls on the Gun” team.

While growth is very im­por­tant, the main fo­cus for the team is to set a good ex­am­ple for the com­mu­nity — and act as a model to in­spire other schools to repli­cate. Based on the re­sults of the Rap­pa­han­nock Com­mit to be Fit, reach­ing that goal can’t be too far off.

Visit www.rap­pc2bf.com to start your jour­ney.

COUR­TESY PHO­TOS

One of Com­mit to be Fit’s “Salad In A Jar” com­mu­nity work­shops.

The Com­mit to be Fit team: Shan­non Grim­s­ley, Jackie Ted­er­ick, Jac­qui LoweBar­ton, Holly Jenk­ins, Stacey Whitt and Amanda Grove.

A fresh fruit sur­vey con­ducted among stu­dents at the el­e­men­tary school.

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