|Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield
|Violet Elementary third-grader Aalihya Flood dribbles the ball through an obstacle course during her physical education course. Gym class counts as physical activity that may be included in the students’ "Let’s Get Moving" calendar.
After hearing reports of the rising number of obese children, Violet Elementary nurse Marcia Stewart asked herself, "What can we do at the elementary level to promote exercise?"
Inspiration took form in the school’s library. Every month students would receive a reward for reading books. Stewart thought she could reward kids for participating in physical activities.
Stewart asked gym teacher Barb Lane to help and together they created "Let’s Get Moving" three years ago.
The program encourages children to participate in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. The students receive calendars upon which they write the number of minutes they spend each day being active or they list the activities themselves.
Parents must initial the calendar everyday and sign it at the end of the month.
Children who complete at least four days of physical activity per week earn a prize. The prize is a charm for their shoelaces. In December, the students could choose between a red charm or a green charm, in February the options will be red or pink.
Gym classes count toward the goal as does recess if students opt to spend the time being active.
Principal Kristi Motsch said that nearly 350 students participate in the program which is about half of the school.
"Lots of healthy kiddos," she said.
On nice days, many students spend their recess walking on the school’s new track. Inspired by "Let’s Get Moving", the Violet PTO raised $25,000 over a two-year period to build the track, which was completed last summer. The PTO organized many fundraisers including a faculty volleyball game.
"Saving every little penny paid off," said Motsch. "We have a great track for the kids to use."
After school hours, local residents also use the track, which is a fifth of a mile long and encircles a playing field.
Fourth-grader Brianna Price said she has earned 10 charms. She likes to ride her bike in the spring and during recess she enjoys walking the track or kicking a ball with her friends. She would like to jump rope, but the other kids grab the ropes before she gets a chance.
February 4-8, students will participate in "Jump Rope for Heart" to raise money for the American Heart Association. Last year the school raised $7,200 and the goal for this year is $7,500, said Lane.
Each rope jumper is encouraged to raise at least $50.
"Every $50 saves a life because that’s what it costs to take a CPR course," Lane said.
Participation in "Jump Rope for Heart" will count toward the students’ February activity goals.
According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, a third of U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight as a result of eating too much and exercising too little.
Being overweight starts kids on a path to adult health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Pediatricians measure the body mass index of children to determine if they are healthy. If a child’s BMI is between 85 and 95 percent for their age group they are often classified as at risk for being overweight. A BMI of 95 percent or higher is considered overweight.
The BMI is a guide, but most pediatricians also consider musculature and body frame.
For information on childhood obesity, visit www.mayoclinic.com.