By Connor Linskey
Sonia Lewis was named the Town of Montgomery Citizen of the Month for November at Thursday’s town board meeting.
Lewis received the award for her community involvement. In particular, she earned the achievement for her youth advocacy. She is a member of the board of education for the Valley Central School District as well as one of the founders of the Valley Central Parents for Social Justice. Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher added that Lewis is an advocate for youth for those who are chastised as well as women. She is also part of the town’s African American Revitalization Committee.
“She has been at a lot of different social gatherings and has really promoted safety and having friendly faces for students and families,” Maher said. “She’s been an invaluable go-between for community members and the police and elected officials, which I can attest to. During our current climate she has done a whole lot to make sure that communication was a priority. She’s facilitated the understanding of racism in different events.”
Furthermore, there was a presentation for a potential health and wellness program within the town. The program is being put together by Maher, Town of Montgomery Recreation Director Michael Bliss and Orange-Ulster BOCES Physical Education Teacher Stephen Gamma.
Gamma, a Valley Central graduate, has also been a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Kansas City Royals and the Director of Sports Medicine/Strength and Conditioning at Mount Saint Mary College. He believes that a lot of good would come from establishing this health and wellness program.
“In my opinion, if we can educate a child, a family member, a mother, a father to be a little bit more active, what it means to be healthy, what wellness means,” Gamma said. “They take that back to their family and now hopefully that health status of that family improves. Now they start to share that with friends, people in their community and before long that community is now active, has a greater appreciation of what it means to be fit and to be well for a lifetime and not just a challenge or for a New Year’s Resolution.”
One pivotal part of the program would be creating a community through brand awareness. Social media and apparel would be utilized to create brand awareness for the program, which would increase participation.
Consistency is the number one goal for the program. For the community to improve its overall health and wellness, they must actively participate on a consistent basis.
In order to get people to work out consistently, the program would educate and motivate them. There would be a video library for free member access, providing video tutorials of performing exercises, stretching and more. Weekly posts would be made on social media regarding health-related topics including nutrition, sleep, exercise, fitness and more. Monthly video interviews featuring local health and wellness professionals and local businesses, providing free information, tips and community awareness of local services would also be provided.
The program includes a series of races (5K, 8K, etc.) featured in the town’s local and surrounding communities. The race series creates the motivation to remain consistent in the training programs while pulling from the support of the community. Health fairs are also part of the plan and would feature local business partners that share the vision for a healthier, more active and fitness conscious community.
Gamma’s goal is for training programs to be implemented. Programs would start with assessments members can perform at home and send their results in. Based on the assessments and medical clearance they will receive slight variations of a progressive, three-month program that will culminate with an event (i.e. race). All members will have free access to a video library of exercises to reference, articles on stretching, warmups, nutrition, sports supplementation, running form, fitness/health equipment and more. Following the race, participants would document their results, perform a new assessment and begin a new program.
Gamma feels that the program would truly blossom after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s so many opportunities once things change COVID wise for more in-person activities,” he said.
He added that people would be more motivated while working out with others in person.
The town board is considering hiring Gamma as a recreation aide at 10 hours a week to further develop this program.
“The cost would be minimal compared to what the impact’s going to be,” Maher said.
Maher and Bliss will move forward with a plan to launch the program.