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JBLM Child and Youth Services

Youth sports specialists earn certification

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:26PM April 12th, 2018

Child and Youth Services’ Parent Central Services hosted a functional fitness certification course April 2 to 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for more than 20 CYS specialists from various garrisons.

Last year, U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s CYS in San Antonio began working with the National Aerobics and Fitness Trainers Association to certify youth sports specialists in functional fitness. During the first year, seven courses taught at different installations with more than 200 earning their certification.

Madeline Fazio, a program specialist for Army’s Youth Sports and Fitness organization, wants functional fitness to be taught to children of all ages — from as young as 3.

“We’re trying to implement more functional fitness,” Fazio said. “The goal is to get all of the staff (members) certified.”

Five of the nearly 30 CYS specialists who participated in the four-day workshop were from JBLM: Nikia Pruitt, Susannah Prenoveau, Aisha Vandessppooll, Steven Wartella and Justin Graham.

“I’m grateful to have my folks recognized by a national organization,” said Cynthia Williams-Patnoe, CYS sports director. “This class will better serve our school age and teenage youth when it comes to more experience in fitness and nutrition.”

Functional fitness is about training muscles to work together in exercises. Instead of concentrating on one muscle group, a single exercise can involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles.

Exercises are based on regular movements done in everyday life, such as reaching up to a cabinet.

NAFTA was formed in 1993 with the mission to help provide people with qualified health and fitness professionals.

One of the reasons CYS leadership wants to certify youth sports specialists is how many military children grow up and choose to serve. NAFTA founder Sherry Morton said approximately 75 percent of kids with military parents go into military service when they get older.

“(We want to) prepare them to be successful so they can pass boot camp without injury,” Morton said.

Pruitt has been with CYS sports since 1999 and said she was excited to learn from Morton and Fazio to improve what she does on JBLM.

“I’m looking forward to having new exercises for the children,” Pruitt said.

The functional fitness certification course took place during a busy time at JBLM CYS. Outside of Parent Central Services, flag football and soccer camps took place in the adjacent athletic fields. The Start Smart Camp for ages 3 and 4 took place in the gymnasium next to where classes were taught.

Williams-Patnoe said it was common for the visiting CYS specialists from other installations to see how busy their fields were during spring break.

“(Hosting the course) gives us exposure to the other garrisons,” Williams-Patnoe said.

Morton said there are additional certification courses available to register through the NAFTA website. For more information, visit

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon