Read about Cindy Elsberry, Exercise Physiologist and Founder of Project Fit Kids, Inc.
To counter the increasing rates of obesity in children and youth, Cindy Elsberry of Acworth, GA, travels to metro Atlanta schools to teach children and educators that physical activity is fun – and necessary.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work
did/do you do?
I travel to daycare centers, preschools, kindergartens, and any facility that will welcome us to teach children and youth about the importance of physical activity. We offer age-appropriate
exercise classes and activities, lectures, and parent-child classes in mostly urban areas of Atlanta. The majority of our classes are offered to underprivileged areas at a discounted rate or for free.
We also provide education to childcare providers outside of the Atlanta metro area and the state so that they may offer our physical education programs to the children in their care free of charge.
Another facet of our program is the SHAPEDOWN program (a 10-week national weight loss/weight management program for overweight and obese children and teens).
What is the name and location of the organization?
Cindy: Project Fit Kids, Inc., 659 Hickory Lake Drive, Acworth, GA 30101.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Cindy: All children in daycare centers, preschools, after school programs and home school groups can benefit from our programs since we are mobile. Our goal is to improve the physical
fitness of our participants and establish a lifelong habit of good nutrition and physical activity
What inspired you to get involved?
Cindy: I was working at a hospital wellness center as the Children's Programs Supervisor and wanted to offer our programs to as many children as possible - not just those with parents who were members of our club.
With the epidemic of obesity in our children and youth, and physical education in schools being cut back or eliminated, I saw the need for additional physical activity for children. I worked with so many children that were literally
sitting in front of a television for 3 or 4 hours a day after school and getting virtually no physical activity.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Cindy: While working at the hospital organizing the children's programs. I wanted to offer our programs to as many people as possible, so I quit my job and devoted my time and efforts to starting a non-profit company devoted to offering our
programs to children and youth in as many communities as possible.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Cindy: Working with the children. They love it when we come to their community and “play” with them. They always have a good time and are excited about their "exercise class". They are learning that physical activity is fun.
What is/was the hardest part?
Cindy: Funding. Trying to purchase the needed equipment so that we can expand is difficult, at best, when most of the purchases are out-of-pocket. Surprisingly, another difficult aspect is trying to convince the community at large that
physical activity is important for our children. Many of the parents aren’t even aware that their children aren’t being given the opportunity to exercise in school on a daily basis.
What was the biggest surprise?
Cindy: The resistance we received from some (but certainly not the majority) of the schools and community centers where we wanted to offer our classes.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Cindy: I learned that the children and teens in the urban areas have a completely different life experience than the one that I remember. They experience or are exposed to situations that I didn't even know existed when I was their age. I have a
better understanding of what motivates children and teens.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Cindy: I don't know what advice I would give, but I would say to DO IT! Try as many different things as you can until you find the one that you are passionate about. It will give you more enjoyment than you can imagine!
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