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A lot goes into making a school a positive place for students to be, but one that many may not think about is pride.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to give out students a sense of pride in their school,” said Jeffrey Gomez, principal of Wheat Ridge’s Everitt Middle School. “Because our kids have a lot of challenges, with about 70 percent on free and reduced lunch, they don’t have the same opportunities a lot of their peers do.”
Thanks to Gov. John Hickenlooper and Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, Everitt students will have something new to get excited about, with the announcement that the middle school will receive a $100,000 Don’t Quit! Fitness Center. The Center will provide students, staff and the community at large with a place to get exercise, get in shape and stay healthy.
The center will be open to both the school’s students, and the broader community.
“We’re looking at being open multiple days after school, so our kids can use it when the day is over,” said Brad Hull, physical education teacher at Everitt. “We’re super excited to get more student buy in to their own health.”
The school joins Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in Colorado Springs and Centennial Middle School in Montrose as the state’s three schools to receive centers.
“Not only is fitness important in building health, but it also builds self-esteem,” Steinfeld said. “At a young age, you can get kids interested in this stuff and it will stick with them.”
The center at Everitt will go into the school’s auxiliary gym. Work on moving the 32 to 40 pieces of gym equipment into the space and getting the center set up will start in September. Steinfeld and other community leaders plan to hold a ribbon cutting for the center some time in October.
State agencies, including the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Governor’s Council for Active and Healthy Lifestyles have been partnering with organizations to increase wellness opportunities for students through things like the fitness center.
In addition to the Don’t Quit! Center, Everitt has been working with Wheat Ridge Cyclery to help provide students access to mountain bikes, and is looking for other grant opportunities.
“We’re growing in the right direction, and want to keep that going,” Hull said. “We want this to be a true community fitness center.”
For Steinfeld, the work he’s doing on the Fitness Council is a way to get everyone excited about their health.
“In addition to health, fitness helps with energy and focus,” he said. “The centers we build are gifts, not grants.”
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