Partnership all about boosting fitness

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn Elementary students are starting to get some serious workouts. With the help of recently installed equipment, students can now improve their physical fitness by taking their pick between a bright-red-and-blue horizontal ladder, a sit-up bench, a climbing pole, and pull-up, vault and parallel bars, Auburn Elementary is one of 22 area schools reaping the benefits from a partnership between Sutter Health and Project Fit America, a program that began in 2005 as a way to promote healthy living and fitness for youth. Sutter Health provides the funding for the equipment needed to execute Project Fit America drills and exercises, which a group of Auburn Elementary fifth-graders demonstrated Monday afternoon during a kick-off celebration. “Childhood obesity, right now, is a nationwide health crisis,” said Mitch Hanna, chief administrative officer of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. “Staying fit and eating the right foods are important.” Fifth-grader Kayci Hedden demonstrated how to do pull ups as her classmates watched. “It’s to keep us all in shape and not get sick,” she said of the equipment. Andy Stockwell said the monkey bars were his favorite piece of Project Fit America equipment. “They make you get up and in shape, and you stretch your arms,” the fifth-grader said. “It’s almost like a gym, but outside.” Maddie Schnepp, fifth-grader and Auburn Elementary student body president, thinks her classmates will benefit from the new equipment. “It’s so they can do more activities so they don’t just lay around at home and watch TV and play video games,” she said. Sam Schug, Auburn Elementary principal, said students are allowed to use the new equipment during physical education, but only then, so they can be supervised and learn how to properly use the equipment instead of just considering it an extension of the playground. “We want this to be physical equipment,” he said. Schug said the equipment is quite popular already. “I’ve had teachers come and schedule extra PE time to come down here, because it’s so packed,” he said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at