One of things that is key to the success of programs that we offer in the Worcester Public Schools are community partnerships. Sometimes those initiatives and partnerships are spearheaded by our very own educators and passions that they have beyond the classroom.
Jocelyn Coughlin, a Science teacher at Worcester Technical High School used her own personal experience to create a program that is quickly expanding throughout the district. Jocelyn was born and raised in Worcester and was educated in the Worcester Public Schools.
Coughlin said, “Growing up I struggled with anxiety, confidence and self esteem which led to unhealthy eating and coping strategies. While my mother put herself through school to be a teacher we struggled economically and therefore did not have an opportunity to play team sports or participate in activities that encouraged an active lifestyle. In my early teen years I was bullied and harassed which deepened my self esteem and confidence issues.
“As a teen, I struggled with weight gain and unhealthy eating habits, despite my activity through the Burncoat Dance department. After having two beautiful daughters and wanting to be a good example for them I knew it was time to become healthy. In 2010, I lost 75 pounds and competed in various fitness competitions. As a high school science teacher I use the biology curriculum to teach lessons on nutrition, health and fitness whenever possible. Students began to recognize the knowledge and desire I had to share and support healthy initiatives and they began coming to me for help and support. That is when the idea of FITCLUB began in 2014. I began by reaching out to the many trainers and gyms that were instrumental in my healthy body and mind transformation and asking them to volunteer their time in training our students after school.”
The trainers and gyms who support FITCLUB truly believe in educating, engaging and supporting healthy students at a young age in efforts to prevent unhealthy adults. Gyms such as GH2 in Holden, Worcester Fitness, Crossfit Worcester, NV Fitness, Fit Frienzie in Shrewsbury have been volunteering their time, donating resources and money, and even inviting students on field trips in efforts to ignite a passion for fitness and health.
The mission of the FITCLUB foundation is to provide fitness, nutritional and health opportunities to the youth of our community by linking industry professionals with schools in efforts to target students that may not have access, opportunity or ability to participate in traditional athletic programs. Meetings include a workout, a brief nutrition lesson or goal, and a motivational message and are open to all students and staff. Workouts are led by guest health professionals such as trainers, athletes, and nutritionists.
FITCLUB received full non-profit status in 2016 and is currently at WTHS, South High and currently piloting an elementary program at McGrath Elementary. The board’s goal is to have a FITCLUB in every school of Worcester and are actively seeking support in order to expand.
We are so fortunate to have educators that support our students beyond the walls of the classroom. Jocelyn Coughlin is a prime example of the phenomenal educators we have in the WPS; one who recognizes the importance of educating the whole child and gives of her own time to share her passion and experiences to help make students healthier and happier. If you are interested in learning more about FITCLUB, go to http://www.fitclubfoundation.