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6th Grade Students and Families Get CatholicFIT Together

posted Feb 25, 2014, 7:44 AM by Cara Koen   [ updated Feb 25, 2014, 12:40 PM ]
      What started as a casual conversation after mass between a parishioner and his pastor, has blossomed into a program that will enhance the spiritual and physical wellness of students throughout the Northeast Deanery. Dave Reddy, personal fitness trainer and health coach and parishioner at St. Ferdinand Parish in Florissant, created CatholicFIT, a fitness education and wellness program, after sharing his idea with Msgr. Jack Schuler. Father Jack introduced him to the Federation pastors and principals, and together they encouraged Reddy to develop his idea into a program that could be shared among all the schools. This month, CatholicFIT is being piloted with sixth grade students in the eight Federation schools. Funding for the program was provided through grants from the Incarnate Word Foundation and the Catholic Education Center.

      Reddy sees a strong connection between faith and fitness, between spiritual and physical health, and notes that elementary school is an ideal time for kids to start noticing and reflecting on this connection. “Being CatholicFIT is not about being super holy and super fit—it is about offering universal, values-based programs for our children so when they struggle in either area throughout life, they look back upon this experience for guidance and support,” says Reddy.

      Reddy met with P.E. teachers at Professional Learning Team meetings in January and February to share CatholicFIT concept and provided suggestions and materials for presenting during classes. Each week, P.E. teachers will incorporate lessons and handouts focused on a CatholicFIT principle, connecting the topic with Catholic Catechism and offering suggestions for how to “eat,” “move” and “act” with intention to honor that principle in daily life. For example, week one focused on water as a symbol for renewal and used at baptism. Participants are invited to “Eat with Intention” by setting goals to drink plenty of water and to “Move with Intention” by practicing smooth and fluid movement with stretching. The other principles to be introduced throughout the program include: family/community, food, sleep/rest/recovery, exercise, self-expression, education, working for justice, prayer/reflection, and relationship with Jesus Christ.

CatholicFIT Family Fitness Workshop at BTC
      CatholicFIT is not only collaborative among the schools, but also encourages family involvement. Parents are invited to opt-in to a weekly e-mail series that covers the same topics their child learns about in class. Families are also encouraged to attend one or more of the five family fitness workshops that are scheduled around the deanery.

      As a pilot program, participation and feedback will be tracked to make improvements to the CatholicFIT concept, which Reddy will also share at the Archdiocese Health & Safety Summit in June 2014.