Fitness Renaissance remains one of the most unique local community initiatives we have ever seen, and it’s one that’s proven success can be found in the physical health of children across Sampson County.
We have tipped our hat to creator Dr. Tommy Newton countless times for his unwavering commitment to the program and to seeing that children are provided ample opportunities — and life lessons — on the importance of exercise and nutrition in their lives.
For over a decade, Fitness Renaissance has been a viable part of the public school systems in Clinton and Sampson County, and funding for its efforts has continued to grow with the program which now is making its way into the private academies in our midst, offering those children the same opportunities as those in elementary grades from one end of the county to the other.
Fitness Renaissance began in 2004 with a goal to serve as many elementary children in grades K-3 as possible. With the addition of Christian academies at Harrells and Mintz, the program will now reach some 4,000 kids annually, an amazing number.
In essence, the program allows students to compete against themselves in terms of fitness goals and, if they are successful, they are rewarded with medals at the end of the school year. It is a way of encouraging life-long health and fitness, according to Newton.
He is right, and the statistics from the Fitness Renaissance program bear that out. At the beginning of the school year, all participating children have their height and weight recorded and their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated. Based on collected data, Fitness Renaissance has been successful in curbing the alarming rise in the number of kids who meet the criteria of obesity.
It is, as Newton pointed out in a Sampson Independent story this week, the opposite of the state and national trends we see which point to children continuing to be overweight or obese.
Sampson’s FR program makes a difference. It has since its inception and we believe, because of strong community and parental support, it will continue to do so for years to come.
Newton’s vision continues to help countless children, and we are thankful for his commitment.