Exploring fitness

Jaymie Baxley | The Robesonian | Paityn Evans, left, Alex Wieties and Abby Grace try out some of the new kid-friendly exercise equipment at the Exploration Station in downtown Lumberton. The children’s museum held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday for a fitness exhibit sponsored by Southeastern Health.

LUMBERTON — A new exhibit at the Exploration Station aims to nip Robeson County’s obesity problem in the bud.

Sponsored by Southeastern Health, the addition features kid-friendly versions of exercise equipment found in most grown-up gyms.

The logic is simple: Turn physical fitness into a fun activity for children, and they’re less likely to balk at exercise as adults.

“I saw the equipment in a catalog while I was on vacation and thought, ‘This is what we need,’” said Jessica Lowery, executive director of the Robeson County Partnership for Children, the nonprofit that oversees the facility.

She shared her idea with Danny Cook, a Lumberton insurance salesman and member of the partnership’s board of directors. According to Lowery, Cook “got the exhibit going” when he approached Southeastern Health about updating its existing display at the museum.

David Sumner, Southeastern Health’s vice president of Policies and Planning, liked the idea.

“It serves us proud to be a part of this,” he said.

The upgraded exhibit includes a recumbent bike, manual treadmill, dumbbells and other pieces of workout equipment that have been scaled down for children.

“It’s modern and new and fresh,” Cook said. “It’s very reflective of the population we have, i.e., the children.”

For more than a decade, the Exploration Station was run by the Children’s Place of Robeson County. Facing mounting debt and decreased funding for operational expenses, the Children’s Place dissolved its nonprofit status and approached the Robeson County Partnership for Children, a larger nonprofit, about taking over in November 2013.

The partnership has since added a number of exhibits to the downtown museum, and Lowery says that more are on the horizon.

Leon Maynor, a Lumberton city councilman and chairman of the partnership’s board of directors, said he hopes other businesses will follow the medical center’s example.

“If someone has an exhibit here, we want to give them the opportunity to upgrade it,” he said. “It’s a different generation now, you know?”

For information, visit robesonpartnership.org. The Exploration Station is located at 104 N. Chestnut St.