Centennial Middle School students

Centennial Middle School students Amber Hale, from left, Alma Vazquez, Melanny Castillo and Sierra Medina enjoy their lunch recess Wednesday on the school playground. 

Access to a healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone, and for the students at Centennial Middle School, participating in physical activities before and after school is one of the ways to do that.

Centennial Middle School received a 220,000 thousand dollar grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to help support programming that will provide student access to physical activities.

This is the second time that the school has applied for and received the grant. The first time was two years ago and helped implement before- and after-school programs for students as well as providing access to the Montrose Community Recreation Center.

“The grant provides morning programming for students to get them physically active, and we are using the Governor's Don’t Quit fitness room and our gym,” said Joseph Simo, Centennial Middle School principal. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon we are bussing our students to the Montrose Recreational Center and are providing opportunities for students to use the facility.”

Simo said the grant helps to cover student fees to the recreational center.

“62 percent of our students at Centennial qualify for free and reduced lunches, which means that a lot of our kids don’t have the opportunity to go to the rec center,” said Simo. “This grant provides that for our students. We’ve been partnering with the rec center for the last two years and moving forward for the next two years we will continue to provide students access to the rec center.”

Simo said the programs help students develop the tools and skills necessary to stay healthy for the rest of their lives.

One of the Colorado Health Foundation’s goals is to promote health equity and to make sure that differences in health access are addressed.

“One of their pillars is to provide healthy activities for our youth and that aligned with what we need here at Centennial,” said Simo.

Simo expressed excitement that the program will continue for the next two years. He said that they have been able to do great things for students and is looking forward to continuing the relationship that has been built between teachers, staff, and the recreation center.

Emily Ayers is a Staff Writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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