Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go: American Ninja Warrior visits Yuma Elementary

Nick Shepherd • Apr 20, 2017 at 7:30 PM

YUMA — Students from Yuma Elementary lined both sides of the entrance to the school while eagerly holding posters and watching every passing car. They let out a scream, which turned into a dull roar, when they finally saw him.

The Ginja Ninja was in town and every single student was excited to give him a high-five as he made his way into the school.


Chris Boehm, who made it to the finals on season 8 of the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” was at the school to help teach students about fitness. His appearance was part of Project Fit America, a nonprofit fitness group started in the 1990s.

“They get donorship — for instance, in Kingsport it is the Wellmont Foundation — to go out to a school and provide that school with outdoor equipment,” said Brenda Byrd, a physical education teacher at Yuma and a regional trainer for Project Fit America.

“They also provide indoor curriculum and training.”

Project Fit America tests the equipment and works to address obesity with certain curricula including nutrition.

Yuma is a pilot school for some new curricula called the ninja challenges. Boehm, who lives in Nashville, heard about Project Fit America and wanted to get involved. Byrd said with the new challenges and Boehm being a ninja warrior, it was a perfect fit.

“I, as a competitor on the show, wanted to come out as an ambassador and talk to the kids about fitness, nutrition, show them a few cool things, take them through their equipment and just have some fun,” he said. “As ninjas, one of the big things we want to do ... is spread fitness. And you have to start with the kids.”

Boehm spoke with the students about his experience on the show as the entire school gathered in the gym to listen.

The Wellmont Foundation was able to partner with Project Fit America through Children’s Miracle Network donations. The foundation bought Yuma new playground equipment back in 2009.

It was an easy decision for Wellmont to bring Boehm to Yuma.

“Wellmont is very passionate about bringing wellness to the community, and partnering with Project Fit America is one way we can do that,” said Anita Campbell, assistant director of development. “It helps them learn things. It’s fun for them. This is something they can take home with them and use in their everyday lives.”


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