By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s absence Oct. 3, Lincoln Park Middle School students and staff still enthusiastically celebrated its newly gifted $100,000 Fitness Center with famed fitness icon Jake Steinfeld.
Whitmer reportedly was on her way to the school when she was called back to Lansing to confer on the state budget.
LPMS, one of three schools in Michigan selected to receive a fitness center, was chosen for its demonstrated promotion of student fitness and wellness. The two other Michigan recipient schools are Ring Lardner Middle School in Niles and Atherton Elementary School in Burton.
Steinfeld chairs the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, which promotes childhood fitness and health. The foundation has reached 28 states to date, financing the fitness centers through public and private partnerships.
Principal Tara Randall said she was honored to be one of the schools selected, and said students are eager to use the facility.
She introduced Steinfeld, who said to the assembled students that he and his team were at LPMS because of the staff members who care about the student body.
“Today, we are showing you that you can change those words from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can,’ because your teachers believe in you, your principal believes in you, your assistant principal and athletic director believe in you,” Steinfeld said. “And out of lots and lots of schools in this great state of Michigan, Lincoln Park is receiving a brand new, $100,000 fitness center.”
He told the students that with confidence and self-esteem, they can achieve anything they want to, and he encouraged them to write down their dreams on a piece of paper.
“Success is failure turned inside out,” Steinfeld said. “If you believe in something so much, you will succeed. Everybody in this room has the opportunity to succeed.”
He said as a fitness trainer in Hollywood, he was able to train celebrities like Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg, and said he learned that they are just like everyone else, except they had a dream, they never took “no” for an answer and they never quit on their dreams.
“You see all the people in this room who care about you, and in this fitness center, you are going to start exercising,” Steinfeld said. “You are going to do exercise that you couldn’t do in the past that now you can do. And if you can do that, what else can you achieve?”
He said when students exercise, they are healthier, and they are more focused in school, and they will do better in school.
“Don’t quit,” Steinfeld said. “That is what this is all about. Success means a lot of different things. It doesn’t only mean making a lot of money. Success means being a good student, a good friend, a good neighbor. I wish for you all the success you deserve. You will succeed if you will not quit.”
He quoted “Don’t Quit,” a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.
“So, stick to the fight when you are hardest hit –
“It is when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
Steinfeld also encouraged the students to be kind to others.
“If everybody did something a little nice for somebody else, wouldn’t this school, this community, this country be a whole lot better off?” Steinfeld asked the students.
Following the ribbon cutting, eighth-grade student Where Everyone Belongs leaders – mentors, who help sixth-graders assimilate into the school — demonstrated the fitness center equipment for the media and local government officials.
Mayor Thomas Karnes said the new fitness center is “fantastic” for the students and the school.
“It is a wonderful program, and it just goes to show that if you ask for it, sometimes it happens for you,” he said. “There is a lot of excitement about this.”
Randall said the gym classes may use the fitness center as needed, the sports teams will have access during practice periods, and there will be open gym time in the fitness facility before and after the school day, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“We actually run a morning program here, where they play in the gym at 7 a.m., or get breakfast, so they can use it during that time,” she said.
Randall said some of her students have never worked out on fitness equipment before, and she hopes the improved fitness and health they experience as they work out will help maintain their current level of enthusiasm.
“The foundation really did a nice job of coming in and working with the kids,” she said. “They practiced a lot. These are our WEB leaders, our eighth-grade mentor program, so our goal is to get these eighth-grade mentors to work with the sixth-grade kids, and be able to help them, to teach the machines.”
Randall said she is appreciative that her students will have the opportunity to benefit from the fitness facility, and she is proud and excited that Lincoln Park Middle School has this opportunity.
“We are doing great things in this school, and giving these kids this opportunity, not only in the classroom, but also a healthy lifestyle, is really exciting,” Randall said.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])