City recognizes student for food, fitness project

By Tom Joyce

June 11, 2014

Local youths who develop healthy eating and exercise habits that help them grow up and reach a ripe old age eventually could have Emily Pfitzner to thank.

Emily, a Mount Airy teen, not only achieved the highest honor given by Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, but has received special recognition from city officials as a result of a program she implemented called “Fun and Fitness.”

The focus of the 10-week program was on teaching kids about the need for good nutrition and being active.

Emily, a member of Girl Scout Troop 40423 led by Dr. Mae Daniels, worked in partnership with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and Reeves Community Center to prepare and implement the program. It included participants in the children’s after-school activities at RCC, who for several months learned about the importance of nutrition and fitness to one’s long-term health.

But rather than just drilling them on the four food groups, the objective of the program was showing kids how easy and fun it can be to eat healthy and stay active.

The program included lessons, games and snacks, along with trips to Riverside Park and roller skating.

“I showed them how to make little pizzas that are healthy,” Emily said of one example of how she appealed to the children on a culinary level near and dear to their palettes. This was part of efforts to illustrate the nutritional value of various food groups.

In addition to achieving the Gold Award in scouting, the Fun and Fitness program led to Emily receiving official recognition during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners last Thursday night.

After hearing Emily discuss the need for good nutrition and presenting her with a city certificate of appreciation, the mayor suggested that she and other officials might have benefited from such expertise in their meal choices before the meeting.

“I had a hot dog and fries earlier,” the mayor joked.

Commissioner Shirley Brinkley said she was impressed by how Emily had given so freely of her time for community betterment. “What an example set for many young people,” Brinkley said of the work by Emily, the daughter of Dr. Glenn and Helen Pfitzner. Dr. Pfitzner is a digestive health specialist.

Emily enlisted the help of fellow Girl Scouts and student volunteers at Mount Airy High School to provide the Fun and Fitness program along with donations from the community. Mentorship was provided by Dr. Daniels, her troop leader, and officials at RCC including city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander and Fonda Mooney, family services director.

Alexander pointed out that Emily grew up among Reeves Community Center programs and in addition to being extremely active at her school remains heavily involved at RCC including serving as a lifeguard there. The parks and recreation director said the fact she chose the center for her Gold Award project was “special.”

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.