Melissa Ledbetter

AIM High and Get Moving

AIM Mission Statement

The mission of Area in Motion is to inspire students to AIM to be fit and to inspire our community to become an "Area In Motion".

The purpose and goal of the organization is to make a positive difference in the lives of students promoting the undeniable connection between an individual's health and their readiness to learn and achieve in all areas of their lives.

Born in California, a well traveled Marine brat, and now a Hilton Head Island resident, Melissa Ledbetter has a message for all of us. As a vacation visitor since the early 80s, Melissa, better known as Mo to her friends, shares a story common to many of us-she fell in love with the Lowcountry! As a local physical education instructor, she tries to share her commitment to fitness with not just her students, but with the community as a whole. As a person, she has a very strong set of core values that match her dedication to fitness as a part of total well being. In a dual "give back" program, let's learn about Area In Motion-AIM!

Pink: How did the idea for AIM come about?
Melissa: It has been a concept that I have been thinking about for a very long time. The statistics that we read as they relate to individual health within our society is staggering. Almost 40% of our student population in this county are overweight or obese. I am not only a teacher, but a parent as well. I have encouraged my own children to be active each day and as a teacher, I have asked the same of my students.

Pink: Do you relate to all of your students or just those who compete in sports?
Melissa: Not everyone can join a sports team or run a marathon, of course, but we can all listen to music and walk or dance. Area In Motion, is a way to motivate the unmotivated student and also encourage community involvement. Sure, I want all of the kids out there, but I want even more than that. How about their parents? Can they come too? I say sure-let's all do it together. That is such a better approach. Let me repeat please-everyone can move around and we all have to start somewhere.

Pink: How do you serve as an example to those you wish to inspire?
Melissa: I am very passionate about taking care of myself and about personal fitness. I was on a swim team in elementary school, I played basketball, softball, ran track and cross-country, and ran for Radford University. Although I am not racing anymore, I still exercise daily and stay in good physical condition. I try to pass this passion on to my students and teach fitness not as just a goal, but as part of an overall health plan. I tell them that if you are healthy and active, your whole world is different. You feel better about yourself, you are a better student, and you relate differently to those around you. I am not talking about being a professional athlete, anyone can be physically fit at his or her own personal level.

Pink: We spoke earlier about core values. What are some
of the values you hold and share with your students?

Melissa: I ask students to respect me in the classroom and as a fitness instructor. I also ask my students to respect each other as individuals. I ask that they understand that we all have different gifts and capabilities and we must always keep that in mind. Never judge. I believe also that each student should learn to respect him or her self. They should take care of themselves as something of value-eat properly, sleep well, and be active. I guess that old "love yourself" saying really is still true.

Pink: Melissa is a candidate for "One From The Heart" for a very good reason. There is another part of AIM, Melissa. Could you talk a bit about that?
Melissa: Sure. Part of the spirit of AIM is giving to others. While I think it is important to share my enthusiasm for total health and fitness, I also feel that students need to have a concept of the fact that there are those among us who are not so fortunate. We decided at our March Community Walk event to collect cans of food for Bluffton Self Help and for Deep Well. It was such a big success. The students were asked to encourage everyone to bring canned food and also to bring members of their families so it could be a true community gathering.  We had over 300 people in attendance and most of them were walking on the track at the school. We sent truck loads of food to both organizations too!  The day was a real win/win.

Melissa would like to see AIM grow into a huge movement. She has big dreams for the group and for its two-pronged ideals. When I asked her, finally, what her own personal words to live by are, she spoke up right away.
"My Dad said to me when I was very young, that it was important to be able to look in the mirror and know that you have done what is right. At the end of the day, we all have to look into that mirror and ask the same question of ourselves."