By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
When I started Fit for Life about two years ago, I had no idea it would evolve into what it is now.
In 2014, The Mercury and the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation partnered to provide the community with a wellness initiative called Fit for Life. The project was created in response to a 2013 health assessment that found the number of overweight and obese people in the area had increased.
What started off as just a few articles in the newspaper is now a full-on community resource for healthy living. When I began working on Fit for Life, I had someone ask me it there was enough to cover to keep the project going long term. If only that person could foresee what is involved with Fit for Life today.
It’s much more than articles. There’s a website, Facebook and twitter. There’s a Fit Kids for Life contest. I make videos of the healthy topics I cover. I organize free community events. I do my best to inform the public about the healthy opportunities that are available in the area. These efforts have helped me to learn about the community and help the community learn about all the resources available to them.
The tri-county area really is on its way to becoming a culture of health consciousness. I’ve covered how school districts are using fitness to not only encourage exercise but also to help students learn better. Children in Pottstown are using kinesthetic desks in the classroom. These desks allow the students to walk or bicycle while listening to the teacher. Fitness isn’t just about the body but also about the mind.
Also as part of Fit for Life, The Mercury did a series of stories on a small organic farm in East Coventry. The local farm uses sustainable methods to grow healthy vegetables. As an army brat, I don’t have much experience with farms. It was an amazing experience to be able to see step by step the growing process of food. Food doesn’t come from the store but from nature. David and Wendy Ryle, owners of Jubilee Hill Farm, taught me what goes into to growing the food we use as sustenance. The series on the farm has its own website with stories, photos and videos at pottstownmercury.wix.com/homesteadfarming.
When I write an article for Fit for Life, I’m able to gain a deeper understanding of the topic I’m covering. I’ve seen the joy and peace people feel when their planting in the community garden. I’ve seen the battles a person has conquered on their weight loss journey. I’ve seen the strength and self-confidence people have developed by joining a fitness support system.
Fit for Life has inspired me and I hope that it inspires the community. I have setbacks when it comes to trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle just like I’m sure many others do. Part of that struggle is that it can’t simply just be a diet or a one month exercise regimen. We have to make a commitment to a lifestyle change. So this New Year, I ask the community to help me on with my goal of a healthier lifestyle. I also ask that the community use Fit for Life as a resource on their own health journey. Visit the website at pottsmercfit4life.wordpress.com.