MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Grapevine Elementary was national host in an Opening Day Kickoff and Fitness Celebration Tuesday at the school playground.

Students demonstrated the school’s new playground equipment awarded through a $16,500 Fitness and Education grant from Baptist Health Madisonville.

GES Principal Ann Elkins said the students and teachers are excited to have received the grant. Grapevine is one of six schools awarded recreation resources since Project Fit America was launched in 2014.

“It is through Baptist Health grant funding and our partnership with Project Fit America that we have all this new equipment,” she said. “We know that being healthy is vital.”

The equipment has been in place for about two weeks, said physical education teacher Jeff Wortham, who has trained teachers and students proper safety in using the horizontal ladder, climbing station, stair exerciser, chin-up bars and other exercise stations on the playground.

Some of the students eagerly and energetically demonstrated the fitness apparatuses as classmates, health workers and teachers cheered.

Rob Ramey, president of BHM, told the group of schoolchildren the best way to avoid hospital visits is to stay active and maintain a healthy diet. He also pointed out that Kentucky ranks 49th for healthy lifestyles across the country.

“You all are going to be the leaders of the future on how we become a healthier state,” Ramey said.

According to a Baptist Health news release, studies have shown that children that exercise score higher on math and reading tests after 20 minutes of exercise, and physical activity improves confidence, mood and sleep benefits.

The mascot from Evansville Otters along with hospital staff and officers from Madisonville Police Department also celebrated with students and teachers during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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