FLORENCE, MS (WLBT) - A crowd of Rankin County school students gathered in the Florence Middle School gymnasium are cheering and hoopin' it up, but it's not just their brand new hula hoops that have them so excited!
Students from across the district gathered Thursday for a celebration. Through grant money, 15 of the district's elementary schools and three of its middle schools now have a Project Fit America outdoor fitness center on campus. The schools have all agreed to incorporate the program into their curriculum.
"I like the step-ups the best because I'm the fastest at it," said FMS student Kristen Lane.
Oakland Elementary School student Anna Attkisson said she likes the monkey bars best. "Because you get to swing side to side and it's fun," she says.
The students have proved they love the challenge of mastering each station. "You climb up the pole, I think that's the hardest," said FMS student Bailey Salvo about the pole climb exercise.
First Lady Marsha Barbour was on hand for the celebration, along with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the group that awarded the grants. The awards total just over $25,000 for each of the 18 schools. The exercise stations were erected at the Rankin County schools over the summer.
Some Jackson Public Schools are making the same pledge and getting the same Project Fit America equipment. A similar celebration was held at Pecan Park Elementary last month. But in Jackson so far, it's been one school at a time.
"Right now we're working with JPS to expand it to other schools within that district," says Wade Overstreet, Executive Director of the Foundation. "By the end of 2008 we want to have Project Fit equipment at more than 150 schools across all of Mississippi."