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Jun 12, 2019 9:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Peconic Bay Medical Center Surprises Westhampton Beach And East Quogue With Fitness Grants

East Quogue Elementary School Principal Robert Long, physical education teachers Danielle Davin and Matthew Maloney and students were surprised on Tuesday to find they will be receiving a new fitness program courtesy of Peconic Bay Medical Center and Project Fit America. DANA SHAW
Jun 12, 2019 10:10 AM

Peconic Bay Medical Center, in partnership with Project Fit America, surprised East Quogue and Westhampton Beach elementary school officials on Tuesday morning with $25,000 grants to introduce a new fitness program at each school—complete with new equipment—as a way to support children’s health and well-being.

Officials from the Riverhead hospital visited both schools and led their respective principals and physical education teachers to believe that the meeting was merely part of the application process for the grant.

They then gathered a group of students taking gym classes to unroll a white banner that read, “Congratulations!”

“I’m so overjoyed we won, and shocked and surprised,” said East Quogue Superintendent Robert Long, who also serves as the elementary school’s principal. “It ties in beautifully to our vision of promoting health and well-being and fitness in our school community.”

“It’s going to be just such a great facility to be able to have our physical education teachers and our kids be able to utilize something right outside the building. It gets more contact time for them, more activity for the kids,” said Kathy Masterson, Westhampton Beach School District’s director of athletics, health and physical education.

Project Fit America is a national nonprofit that funds fitness programs for schools, with the goal of helping children make healthy lifestyle choices.

Andrew Mitchell, the president and CEO of Peconic Bay Medical Center, who participated in the surprise announcements, said that there was a tie between the two schools, so they awarded a grant to each of them. Nine other schools on the East End have received the grant to date.

The grant funds the purchase and installation of outdoor fitness equipment and indoor mobile equipment, including sports hoops and “cardio cups,” as well as lesson plans, teacher training and testing and evaluation of the program. The outdoor equipment includes pull-up bars, a pole climb, parallel and vault bars, a horizontal ladder, also known as monkey bars, and step test and sit-up stations.

At Westhampton Beach Elementary School, the chosen site for the outdoor equipment was on the lawn where outside lacrosse and soccer teams hold games on the weekends. The physical education teachers pointed out that younger children can use the equipment while the games are being played.

“We’re finding that, as the teachers already know, if we can support good health habits early, they become lifelong habits,” Mr. Mitchell said.

He added, “In terms of being a regional medical center for the whole East End, it’s really important for us to reach out into the schools.”

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