Fit Club expands.

October 14, 2015
Kathy Grierson of Spectrum Health talks to Scottville Elementary students.

Kathy Grierson of Spectrum Health talks to Scottville Elementary students.

The Win with Wellness Fit Club is now in the second month of its expansion into all Mason County schools along with Pentwater and Hart schools. The program, sponsored by Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, was launched in Ludington last year.

“It was so successful we decided to expand into the other schools,” said hospital spokesperson Patricia Ezdebski.

Win with Wellness Fit Club is a school-based initiative designed to help elementary school children learn about the importance of health and wellness through in-class education sessions and opportunities to participate in a walking/running challenge and fitness-related community events. 

Kathy Grierson, community health coordinator for the hospital and leader of the Fit Club program, explained that the program has been introduced to elementary schools in the Mason County Central, Mason County Eastern, Pentwater and Hart school districts.

Last year, it was launched at Ludington Area Schools and Ludington Area Catholic School.

In addition, a community health educator, Leona Ashley, has been added to the hospital’s community health staff to help roll out the program to the new schools. Ashley is an experienced educator, who is also fluent in Spanish.

Each of the new schools were visited by Grierson and Ashley who explained the program to the elementary students.

As with the Ludington schools, the program teaches students about the importance of developing positive, healthy behaviors that can help them enjoy a lifetime of fitness and wellness. Grierson and Ashley incorporate fun fitness activities, such as a 100-mile physical activity challenge, with prizes for the kids as they reach milestones toward their goal. Running and walking are a big part of the challenge, but other health-related activities also have mile “equivalents” that also count toward the goal.

Periodic special events, such as free 5K participation and in-school presentations on various health topics are included in the program.

In its first year, nearly 65 percent of the target student population participated—a total of 1,200 students. Grierson said the expanded program hopes to reach 3,000 students this year. Approximately 500 kids have already signed up in the new school year.

Also new to the program this year are online Fit Club registration and miles tracking at, and collaboration with physical education teachers to track fitness measures. One Fit Club student at each of the schools, among those who earn their 100 miles goal, will be selected through a raffle to win a bicycle and helmet.

Grierson and Ashley receive input and guidance from physician advisors Kari Leikert, DO; Tammy Middlebrook, MD; and James Ryan, DO. Both teachers and community members serve as role models and volunteers for the program and the kids.

The Fit Club expansion into the other schools was possible through a $188,000 grant from the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Foundation along with an additional $8,000 grant from Community Foundation for Mason County.