St. Luke’s Senior Network Administrator for Sports Medicine Relations John Hauth (left) along with Joseph Roy and Peter Mayes following a BASD school board meeting at East Hills Middle School Monday night, February 28.
Bethlehem Area School District and St. Luke’s University Health Network are proud to announce the renewal of their sports medicine contract. The new contract includes additional commitments to promote community wellness for underserved and at-risk populations within the district.
The commitments focus on St. Luke’s “Fit for Life” programming to promote physical activity, nutrition/food insecurities and behavioral health, and will place a special focus on those living in the South Side and the underserved children and families of Bethlehem.
“We want to focus on late elementary and early middle school students, the children most vulnerable in terms of developing healthy lifestyle habits,” said Bob Martin, St. Luke’s Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. “By having the opportunity to reach these children and their families, we hope to achieve long-lasting habits that lead to happier and healthier lives.”
Some of the St. Luke’s commitments include:
- St. Luke’s “Fit for Life” programming at the elementary and middle school level
- Serving as Lead Community Partner for “Fit for Life”
- Establishing connections with city, university and community partners
“What we wanted to do differently was go from St. Luke’s providing a typical sports medicine agreement to one focused more on a healthy lifestyle program and fill in the holes in the ground between sports and healthy living, particularly for our fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders,” said Joseph Roy, EdD, Superintendent of Schools, Bethlehem Area School District.
Dr. Roy noted as children grow from elementary to middle school, they are often priced-out of youth club teams and drop out of sports and healthy activities altogether before reaching high school.
St. Luke’s and BASD will focus on areas of the city served by Broughal Middle School and Northeast Middle, where it is often difficult to get enough players to field teams in several sports.
“The Fit for Life program is going to focus on healthy living and fitness for our students,” said Peter Mayes, EdD, Principal of Nitschmann Middle School. “Our city has some great sports programming and some great healthy community activities, but there hasn’t been a lot of synergy, which we are now creating. The goal is to bridge the gaps between what is existing, and what the City of Bethlehem, our university partners, and our community partners can do to not just teach, but enhance, healthy lifestyle choices.”
The overall goal of the new contract is to provide a defined pathway for students and their families to embrace healthy living and healthy lifestyle choices.
"Bethlehem Area School District has been an outstanding partner in helping St. Luke's and others address critical health care disparities that exist in the Community,” said John Hauth, St. Luke’s Senior Network Administrator for Sports Medicine Relationships.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to continue our work with the district and further these efforts by launching our most comprehensive Fit for Life project to date. Our shared Fit for Life initiatives are multi-generational with specific programming designed for the elementary and middle school populations.
“The District, St. Luke's, and many other organizations have set a framework to provide a variety of physical activity and sports programs for the underserved as well as programming to address key health care needs like food insecurity, mental health and chronic disease. Addressing these challenges is a heavy lift, and as a Lead Community Partner, St. Luke’s has committed resources more than $2 million to support the effort. We are anxious to fully engage this transformative work with the district and other partners over the coming months.”
Providing a game plan to optimize every area of health from fitness, nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices and mental health, is a critical component of the agreement.
“We believe that schools are the hub of communities,” said Rajika Reed, St. Luke’s Vice President, Community Health. “We understand that the social determinants of health play a vital role in health outcomes and believe that meeting folks where they live is the key to addressing barriers,” Dr. Reed added. “We therefore have mobile services that go to the schools to provide medical care, and staff who operate primarily out of the school so they can better immerse within our community.”
The contract also renews St. Luke’s previous sports medicine enhancements and responsibilities with BASD, including providing two athletic trainers at both Liberty High School and Freedom High School, one athletic trainer at each of the four middle schools, along with strength and conditioning coaches and a variety of support, sponsorship and equipment.
"While the ‘Fit for Life’ project is the foundation of our extension with the district, it goes without saying that we are thrilled to continue our work with the outstanding sports programs at BASD,” Dr. Hauth said. “As the Region's largest and most highly integrated sports medicine provider, we are focused on providing BASD student-athletes and families with access to the highest quality sports medicine and sports performance services."