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HSHS St. John’s Hospital Brings Project Fit America to Dubois Elementary

HSHS St. John’s Hospital officials joined Springfield Public School District 186 administrators, teachers and students to celebrate the launch of Project Fit America (PFA) at Dubois Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.
The celebration included a ribbon cutting and students demonstrating exercises on the school’s new outdoor fitness equipment. Attendees included school officials, Springfield District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill, Mayor Langfelder, Dr. Chuck Lucore, president and CEO of HSHS St. John’s Hospital and Vernessa Glover, executive director of HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital.
“Receiving the Project Fit America Youth Wellness Grant here at Dubois means everything to us. Our playground and facilities were sorely in need of transformation. Our students, families, staff and community are most grateful for the support and honored to have this exciting initiative here,” said Donna Jefferson, principal at Dubois.
“At HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital, we’re passionate about improving wellness in the communities we serve, and we especially want to do our part in the fight against childhood obesity,” said Kim Luz, director of community outreach. “We’re thrilled to partner with Dubois Elementary School and the community to empower these children and their families to learn healthy habits and enjoy healthier lives.”
“All Dubois Elementary School students and staff will be taught how to use the outdoor equipment and how the activity benefits their bodies,” said Stacey Lochbaum, physical education teacher. “The PFA curriculum, including indoor and outdoor activity, addresses fitness areas such as upper body strength, coordination, flexibility and more.  Stacey noted the initiative goes beyond traditional fitness and is also helping them build character and social and leadership skills.”
Since 2013, St. John’s Hospital has been sponsoring the PFA initiative for area schools. With the addition of Dubois, three area schools now have the PFA program in place impacting more than 1,500 children and their families. St. John’s Hospital piloted the PFA initiative in 2013 at Matheny-Withrow Elementary and launched the program at Feitshans Elementary School in 2016. The students love the program and teachers report a noticeable increase in their eagerness to participate. This is not your average gym class. The activities are both fun and intense.
The St. John’s Hospital PFA sponsorship includes: state-of-the-art fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; installation of the equipment; and a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges for kids with the PFA outdoor and indoor equipment. The program also teaches character development, sportsmanship, teamwork and leadership skills. The academic emphasis is to create “physically educated” children and to empower them to take personal responsibility of their health with enthusiasm. PFA provides support to the schools for two years, along with on-site training with each PE teacher.
“Research shows that not only is physical education important for a child’s physical development, it actually helps kids read and learn math. Physically active kids are better learners. Quality fitness in education has a direct impact, not only a child’s health, but their academic success,” said Stacey Cook, executive director of PFA. “We are extremely proud of St. John’s Hospital for its commitment to bring this program to the community and for its dedication to improving the health and wellness of children.”

About HSHS St. John’s Hospital
HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Cancer Center, orthopedic services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay).  HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org
About Project Fit America
Project Fit America (PFA) is a national nonprofit organization that creates sustainable and innovative broad based fitness programs in schools. PFA programming includes state-of-the-art outdoor fitness equipment specifically designed to address the deficit areas where children fail fitness tests; indoor fitness equipment; a dynamic curriculum with games, activities and challenges; on-site teacher training and in-class instruction on subjects such as smoking intervention, nutrition and understanding your body. PFA is in our 28th year of working with schools in over 1,000 schools in over 300 cities in 46 states. Schools report increased motivation, participation and physical improvements in their students, along with parents and faculty becoming more involved in choosing fitness activities over sedentary lifestyle habits.

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