Derby students received their first look Wednesday at a new, $100,000 fitness center paid for by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils.
The unveiling included an assembly with celebrity fitness guru Jake Steinfeld, of “Body by Jake” fame. Steinfeld is the chairman of National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils.
The new fitness center is in the high school, but will be available to middle school students across the street. In addition, there are also plans to open it to the community on weekends.
The money to build it didn’t just fall out of the sky.
Derby is one of just three school districts in the state to receive the funding, and there were more than 200 applicants.
Derby was chosen for a combination of reasons related to economic need and school programs that promote healthy lifestyles.
The small district has its share of challenges.
It is an “alliance district,” according to the state education department, which qualifies it for extra money due to poor academic performance. It also has a significant low-income population.
Derby schools qualified for the money because of those facts.
But it won the money because of the efforts of the teachers, students and the community to promote good health.
Story continues after the photo gallery.
Kelly McKeag, the program director for the National Foundation of Governors’ Fitness Councils, sent the Valley Indy a list of local programs that put Derby over the top:
Some of the innovative health programs included:
- The middle school’s sixth grade healthy cooking participation.
- The high school’s fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
- The district’s partnership with Griffin Hospital to display “NuVal” nutrition scores in the cafeterias
- The district’s partnership with the non-profit “Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools.”
Story continues after WTNH’s report on the new equipment.
Steinfeld, 56, described himself as “a fat kid with a bad stutter growing up” in Brooklyn and Long Island, N.Y.
“My dad bought me a set of weights when I was 13 years old. Not only did the weights build my body, but it built my confidence and my self-esteem,” he said.
Here is a short video of Steinfeld addressing the crowd:
And here he is at the end, telling the kids, “Don’t quit!”
The high school space that is now home to the fitness room was once used as home economic classrooms.
Students said it is a major improvement.
Derby High School seniors Mike Mauro and Brian Eliasson, both 17, are two of the five captains of the Derby football team (the others are Andy Sanchez, Mike Kreiger and Ben Slowik).
They were happy with the new workout room.
“We had another weight room before, but it did not have as much equipment,” Mauro said. “We were limited as to what we could do there.”
“And there wasn’t enough space,” Eliasson said.
The money for the Derby fitness center came from Coca-Cola and AOL, two corporations that donate to National Foundation of Governors’ Fitness Councils.
Stacy Chambers, Derby’s assistant superintendent, authored the winning grant application.
A number of dignitaries were also on hand to lend support to the schools, including Mayor Anita Dugatto, members of the city’s Board of Aldermen, members of the Board of Education, members of the tax board, state lawmakers and the Derby Chief of Police.