Clinton physician Tommy Newton has a passion for health and fitness. For the last 12 years, he has had the opportunity to share that passion with thousands of students across Sampson County and now has the chance to reach even more students than before.
Fitness Renaissance began in 2004 with a goal to serve as many children grades kindergarten through third in Sampson County. The organization was able to reach thousands through Clinton City and Sampson County schools, but have now began serving students at Harrells Christian Academy and Mintz Christian Academy. With the addition of the private schools, Fitness Renaissance will be reaching 4,000 students every year.
“Prior to the current school year, our board of directors voted to expand to HCA and to Mintz in addition to continuing to serve all ten elementary schools in the public school systems in Clinton and Sampson County,” Newton said. “After that, I made contact with the appropriate people at both schools and got approval for the elementary PE teachers to begin Fitness Renaissance with their students this year.”
According to Newton, he has received a great deal of positive feedback from teachers at Harrells.
“The students enjoy competing against themselves, trying to beat their best,” Newton said about the students at Harrells who are now benefiting from the program. “As per our program guidelines, if they are successful at beating their best, students are rewarded for their efforts during the year. If they are successful for all four activities in Fitness Renaissance, they will receive a gold medal at the end of the school year. If they are successful in three of four activities, they receive a silver medal. If they are successful in two of four activities, they receive a special certificate.”
Teachers at Harrells have been pleased with the involvement students have in taking part in a healthy and fit lifestyle.
“This program allows the students to be actively involved in goal setting and taking charge of their physical health,” Kim Bowles, teacher at Harrells Christian Academy, said. “It is not about who can do the most or who is the fittest. It is about personal goals and working hard to achieve their own personal best. What a great way to encourage life long health and fitness.”
Fitness Renaissance is a school based awards program that rewards children for achieving fitness goals throughout the school year. It combines elements of the President’s Physical Fitness Awards program and a local successful Reading Renaissance program. According to Newton, children are individually tested in a focused physical activity each quarter of the school year, and given an individual goal for improvement. At the end of each quarter, the students are retested to see if they have met their goal.
At the beginning of each school year, all participating children have their height and weight measured, and their respective Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated. Based on data, Fitness Renaissance has been successful in curbing the alarming rise in the number of children who meet the criteria of obesity. This, Newton shared, is an opposite trend to state and national data, which continues to show increasing numbers of children who are overweight or obese.
“Fitness Renaissance is having a positive impact on our children, and helping teach them healthy lifestyle habits through the program,” Newton said.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.