Ostrander School selected for Project Fit America voting contest

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Ostrander Elementary School is one of 46 schools nationwide to participate in a voting competition for a $25,000 Project Fit America grant that would provide fitness equipment for students and the community.

Four schools with the most votes will be awarded $18,000 for state-of-the-art outdoor and indoor fitness equipment, curriculum, lesson plans, supplies and training for teachers and a $7,000 cash stipend for installation support.

The outdoor fitness circuit includes a step-up station, parallel bars, horizontal ladder, sit up/push up, pull-up, vault bar and pole climb. The indoor fitness includes fitness cups, weighted hoops, medicine balls and weighted jump ropes.

The curriculum designed for the program focuses on the building blocks of physical fitness, such as upper and lower body strength, coordination, flexibility, cardiovascular strength and endurance and nutrition.

Project Fit America is a national non-profit organization that creates and implements fitness and education programs in elementary and middle schools.

Physical education teacher Tracy Kowal said the Project Fit program would show students the fun in fitness and the importance of being healthy. It will also show alternative fitness methods for students who do not enjoy traditional fitness regimes like sports.

“It will show [students] how they can be active and have fun doing it,” Kowal wrote in the Project Fit grant application. “They will understand the importance of being healthy and that Physical education and being active is not just playing sports.”

The Project Fit equipment would bring students and the community together. Kowal said the school could black-top the upper area behind the gym, giving students an outdoor teaching station and play area that is dry and free of ticks and animal feces. The school could set up the Project Fit equipment in the new play area and add to the biking program.

The outdoor fitness equipment will be open to the public after school hours, bringing families together. Only three blocks from the center of town, the equipment would be in a convenient location for the whole community.

“Our playgrounds now are set for fun and for children,” Kowal said. “Your program is for fun, fitness and everyone. I would love to see our community use it and become fit together.”

Having one large playground instead of three separate ones will also bring students together for peer teaching.

Principal Natalie Harjes said the fitness equipment and curriculum will teach students healthy habits.

“I see this grant as an opportunity to build a setting for our students and the community,” Harjes wrote in the grant application. “It will shine a spotlight on what we believe to be important, overall fitness and well-being. Physical activity, healthy lifestyle and personal wellness should be at the forefront of our minds. There are many health benefits of regular exercise and research has shown it can help children do better in school.”

Kowal sees this program as being a pilot program for the entire district, which includes two other elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.

Voters may vote one time per email address each day during the voting period. Visit danimals.com/schoolgrantswithapurpose to vote or sign up for a daily reminder which includes the link to vote. Voting starts Feb. 2 and ends Feb. 28.

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