2010-03-25 / News

Fundraising campaign kicks off for new kids’ fitness zone

By Eileen M. Daly

This site plan shows the proposed layout for the fitZONE project at the Lawn Avenue School. The drawing was prepared by island architect Lisa Carlisle. This site plan shows the proposed layout for the fitZONE project at the Lawn Avenue School. The drawing was prepared by island architect Lisa Carlisle. With childhood obesity rates a continued cause for concern across the U.S., getting kids up and moving ought to be on everyone’s priority list.

Unfortunately, according to the 2008 Kids Count Report, Rhode Island ranks last nationally for the percentage of children and teens who exercise regularly.

A group of Jamestown parents and leaders are doing their part to reduce that statistic by creating a new outdoor fitness experience for current and future generations of Jamestown children.

Called the fitZONE, the new outdoor project will feature a fitness trail, a climbing structure, two rock climbing boulders and a large swing. The climbing boulder area, scheduled to be installed during phase I of the fitZONE project, will be called “kidsROCK.”

The climbing boulder section will consist of two giant pre-fabricated boulders that will tower over 10 feet high and will be named after two natural formations: Yosemite and the Delicate Arch. The boulders will have natural-formed handholds that will provide a real climbing challenge for children, according to a brochure for the project.

The fitZONE is described as a key part of the Master Plan for the Lawn Avenue and Melrose Avenue School campus.

Other projects that have been completed as part of this plan include reconstruction of sidewalks in the vicinity of the Lawn Avenue School, a new circulation system for school busses at the Melrose School and the development of the Jamestown skate park.

Future projects will include not only the fitZONE, but also sidewalks to connect the Lawn Avenue and Melrose Avenue School campus, a fitness trail around the tennis court complete with fitness stations, new bicycle racks, outdoor classroom meeting areas and landscaping.

The importance of regular exercise has been linked to both physical and mental well-being in children. According to the American Heart Association, physical activity can help children control weight, reduce blood pressure, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and some cancers, and improve psychological well-being, including boosting self-confidence and selfesteem.

In a brochure describing the fit- Zone project Jamestown physical education teacher Andrea Brayman emphasized the importance of establishing good health habits early in life.

“When children are encouraged to participate in physical activity – and enjoy it – a lifetime of good health is possible,” she said.

The fitZONE climbing boulders will also offer important benefits to Jamestown’s special needs children, according to Occupational Therapist Dana Brodin.

“Climbing structures will allow children with sensory processing disorders the opportunity to participate in deep pressure activity through hanging, climbing and jumping,” Brodin said in the brochure. “This also meets their need for socially appropriate calming activity necessary to increase focus and attention in the academic environment.”

While a combination of federal, state, local and grant funding will be sought, private funds will need to be raised for each component of the Master Plan, according to Lisa Primiano, co-chair of the fundraising committee.

To that end, an aggressive fundraising campaign for the “kidsROCK” component has been launched and will target parents, community leaders and charitable organizations dedicated to supporting school-based programs for middle school children.

Approximately $60,000 needs to be raised to make “kidsROCK” a reality, Primiano said.

Islanders – and others – who would like to support the fundraising campaign can help by:

• Making a direct tax-deductible contribution to the Jamestown PTO, c/o Melrose School, 76 Melrose Ave., Jamestown, RI 02835. Note “Lawn Avenue fitZONE” on any checks to ensure that funds are directed to this project.

• Attending a fundraising cocktail party with a live and silent auction on May 22 at the studio of Duncan and Kim Laurie on Ft. Wetherill Road.

• Donating items for the live and silent auction on May 22 by contacting Jay Primiano, co-chair, fundraising committee at 487-5504.

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