Leader Blues

Monday, November 23, 2009

TOP STORY >> Governor honors two area gyms

Gov. Mike Beebe with Celeste Williams (left), Kim Dean, 19th Aeromedical Squadron commander Lt. Col. Tom Morrison, and Jeffrey Vaughn. Williams, Dean and Vaughn are from the 19th Medical Group’s Health and Wellness Center.

Lonoke Community Center director Mike Brown (left) accepts a Governor’s Council on Fitness award for best fitness club from Gov. Mike Beebe.

By ALIYA FELDMAN

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base and the Lonoke Community Center have been named as leaders in health by the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness.

They received 2009 Leadership in Fitness Awards on Nov. 13 at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock.

The Arkansas Governor’s Council on Fitness encourages participation in activities that will help make Arkansans healthier and happier.

The council picked Lonoke’s center and the base’s health and wellness center for the support they offer to people who want to improve their health.

“We do it for the community,” said Mike Brown, director of the Lonoke Community Center. “We try to put out good programs, and we want to try different things.”

Brown has been director of the center since its doors opened almost eight years ago. He said office manager Cristal Brazzell did the “leg work” that led to the center being named a leader in the area of health and fitness clubs.

Brazzell said she sent in a nomination application after she saw an announcement in the newspaper that the council was seeking nominations. She collected letters of recommendation and wrote a summary of programs held at the community center.

Areas she highlighted included certification of class instructors and lifeguards. Free health fairs, including one for senior citizens held each year, were also a deciding factor in the center being named for the award.

“They’ve really made an impact on the community,” Brazzell said about the center’s programs.

The center also holds stop-smoking concerts as part of the state-sponsored Stamp Out Smoking program and an after-prom event for high school students.

The center last year received a $2,500 grant to create a “Hooked on Golf” program. Children are also given support at the center through its diabetes program and special-needs swim team, among many other programs.

In addition, the Lonoke center has won first place in the Lonoke County Fitness Challenge for three of the four years it has competed in the contest.

The base health and wellness center was named in the government agency category for the work it has done to promote fitness.

The center has worked to educate airmen and their families through personal counseling on creating healthy lifestyles.

“The efforts of the 19th Medical Group’s Health and Wellness Center’s staff have impacted the lives of the Little Rock Air Force Base’s military population, retirees and their families,” Lt. Col. Tom Morrison, 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, said.

“The center provides professional fitness and nutrition counseling to more than 3,000 individuals per year, supplying educational resources to men and women, enhancing their ability to take control of their own health,” Morrison said.