Buchanan Elementary Taking First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative Seriously with Operation FitKids Curriculum
- February 21, 2011
Beall (far left) leads Buchanan Elementary third graders (from center, left to right) Angel Quinn, Chantaivia Lockett, Ronda Jacksom and Erielle Isbell and their classmates in a physical education version of the Simon Says game during a FitKids class.
Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama launched her nationwide initiative Let’s Move! to help fight the problem of childhood obesity so the children born today will grow up healthier and be able to pursue their dreams.
Buchanan Elementary School Principal Patrice Hudson is taking the initiative seriously and, with the help of a school partner, has instituted a program in her school that closely follows the guidelines on child nutrition and physical activity of the president’s first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Operation FitKids Curriculum, a free program provided by the American Council on Exercise (ACE, a national certifying organization) was released this year. Working with Rosemary Beall, a volunteer from the school’s partner, First Presbyterian Church, and owner of Rosie’s Wellness, the two implemented the curriculum in third-grade classes this winter.
Beall, who also is a certified personal trainer, wellness coach and lifestyle and weight management coach, is employed as a part-time wellness coordinator for Pennington Biomedical Research Center, so she is well suited for the job. She follows a seven-week course broken down in two categories – fitness and nutrition – to help children understand that being active and eating well are equally important in maintaining good health and staying fit.
The curriculum link is http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/887/operation-fitkids-free-curriculum-for-trainers/. On the site, ACE reports the American Obesity Association statistics that about 30.3 percent of children ages 6-11 in the United States are overweight (at or above the 85th percentile of Body Mass Index or BMI), and 15-3 percent obese (at or above the 95th percentile of BMI). For children between the ages of 12 and 19, 30.4 percent are overweight, and 15.5 percent are obese. Further, the report indicates the prevalence of obesity in children has quadrupled over the past 25 years in America. That’s why they created the Operation FitKids curriculum, which was authored by Debi Pillarella, a former elementary school teacher with a degree in curriculum/program design and a program director at The Community Hospital Fitness Pointe in Munster, Ind.
During one afternoon hour on any Tuesday or Thursday of the coursework, visitors can find Beall in the third-grade classrooms leading students in jumping jacks, playing a physical education version of Simon Says or leading a discussion on nutrition. Handout information and discussions have centered on student food and exercise journals, the food pyramid guide and worksheet and more. The course includes 30 minutes of physical activity and 30 minutes of study and discussion.
For one lesson, Beall brought in 5- and 7-pound bags of sugar to show them how much sugar the children might consume in a year if they drank chocolate milk or strawberry milk every day instead of low-fat, white milk. “They were a bit surprised by how much sugar was in that kind of milk, and they thought the bags of sugar were pretty heavy,” she said.
“I also brought in some fruits and vegetables to see if they could recognize them. There were a few that stumped them, like zucchini, eggplant, grapefruit and kiwi. I hope what I'm doing in the third-grade classes is making a difference. I’ll feel like I've accomplished a lot even if I only impact one student's life.”
Beall had tutored a child at another school as a student in the Louisiana State University Wesley Foundation (Methodist Campus Ministry). “It was very rewarding, and I learned a lot from that little boy. I wanted to continue working with kids, and I thought this was a good idea. A lot of students aren’t getting this education here or at home. Kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, so I stress that. They aren’t getting it for the most part. My passion is to teach children the importance of being active and eating properly. Instilling healthy lifestyle habits starts at an early age.”
Teachers say they’ve noticed some changes in students’ behavior lately as a result of the class. “When my students are eating their snacks, I’ve noticed they are reading the labels on the back of the packages now,” said France Brady, a third-grade teacher. Teacher Melony Coleman added, “This is a really great program. My students are retaining information about what foods are good for you and what foods are not. They are more concerned about what they are putting into their bodies.”
The participating students seem to agree, too. “I really like our health program,” said third-grade district-wide Spelling Bee champ Navya Murugesan. "It is interesting because we are learning what helps our heart stay healthy.”
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
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