I’ve been part of some pretty amazing events since I have been involved with the Newburyport Education Foundation, but nothing quite like this! The NEF has announced its first Port Plank-A-Thon, a fundraising initiative to create a state-of-the-art wellness space for all students and staff at the Edward G. Molin Upper Elementary and Rupert A. Nock Middle Schools. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Molin/Nock gym. All are welcome to come cheer the participants on. Tours of the future wellness space will be conducted by student volunteers and plans for the space will be on display.

Presented by Motivate Barre.Cardio.Cycle, our Port Plank-A-Thon is believed to be the first event like it in the state. Students will hold a plank position (an exercise in which a prone person balances on their toes and hands or forearms while holding the rest of the body up) for as many seconds as possible. The goal isn’t to see who can plank the longest but for each student to create their own fitness goal and try to plank their personal best. Supporters can sponsor students by the second or make a flat donation. In addition, a parent has pledged to donate $2,000 if 200 kids commit to plank. To celebrate, a “Grand Plank” will be held at the end of the event where all participants will plank simultaneously.

We have some amazing prizes that have been donated to raffle off to student participants the night of the event. Prizes include Apple AirPod headphones, a puck autographed by Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, a Kindle e-reader with three months of Kindle Unlimited, two Amazon Echo Dots, an iTunes gift card, Clipper Pride gear, a Nike sports bag, accessories from Ganesh, and donated gift cards from local businesses Oregano Pizzeria & Ristorante, Anchor Pizza, and Chococoa.

Along with the students, several community leaders have committed to plank in healthy competition. These leaders include Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, Superintendent Sean Gallagher, Newburyport High School Principal Andy Wulf, NHS Assistant Principal Mike Testa, NHS athletic director Kyle Hodsdon, NHS varsity soccer and basketball coaches Sean Bleau and David Clay, Nock Principal and Assistant Principal Lisa Furlong and Nick Markos, Bresnahan Elementary School principals Kristina Davis and Amy Sullivan, and numerous City Council members.

Students have been learning to plank during gym class and will try to beat their own time to help raise money for the wellness space. Meghan Kinsey, instructor and owner of Motivate Barre.Cardio.Cycle, envisioned this event and is excited to see it come to fruition.

“The Port Plank-a-thon is an absolute merger of my three favorite things - exercise, community, a little competition,” Kinsey said. “Bringing the community together to generate funding and awareness while celebrating fitness is a dream come true for me.”

The goal of the wellness space is to create a vibrant and engaging center where students will practice health and wellness on a daily basis and develop skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. This space will consist of a warm up room, cardio/fitness room, and yoga/mindfulness room. An unused space adjacent to the gym will be renovated into an area that will be used teachers and faculty to enhance learning opportunities and wellness practices in physical education, stress-reduction, and self-regulation. The rooms will include cardio equipment such as treadmills, stationery bikes, and rowing machines along with weights, racks and resistance training equipment. The yoga room will feature mats and storage and all rooms will be equipped televisions and interactive screens to enhance learning and participation.

In addition to our presenting sponsor Motivate Barre.Cardio.Cycle, a special thanks to our Crimson Sponsors - Colden & Seymour Ear Nose & Throat, Helium Design, JD Chiropractic, and ProForm Physical Therapy. This event could not take place without this kind of our support from our community business leaders.

To sign your 4th to 8th grader up for the Plank-A-Thon, go to www.PledgeIt.com/for/Port-Plank-A-Thon to register. If you would like to sponsor the children that are planking, you can make a flat donation at: https://pledgeit.org/newburyport-education-foundation-2019-port-plank-a-thon/@codonnell. If you are a community member interested in participating email info@newburyportef.org. Please help us make this amazing opportunity a reality that will have an immediate and lifelong impact on our students.

Carrie O’Donnell is the executive director of the Newburyport Education Foundation. 

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