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Published February 10, 2009, 12:00 AM

WF elementary schools start new wellness program

West Fargo elementary students almost rose up in protest Monday after they were told they had to kick pop and TV out of their daily routine. After the “awws” and “boos” subsided, program director Jennifer Banks ex-plained why fewer sugary drinks and less screen time will help the L.E. Berger Elementary third-, fourth- and fifth-graders stay healthy.

By: Kelly Smith, INFORUM

West Fargo elementary students almost rose up in protest Monday after they were told they had to kick pop and TV out of their daily routine.

After the “awws” and “boos” subsided, program director Jennifer Banks ex-plained why fewer sugary drinks and less screen time will help the L.E. Berger Elementary third-, fourth- and fifth-graders stay healthy.

“Maybe it’s not realistic for every day, but we want the education to be out there,” said Banks, who represents the Boston-based organization Fitness Forward. “We want to target kids at a young age so it can carry these behaviors into adulthood.”

Monday was the kick-off for Fitness Forward’s Drive 2 Fitness program in all West Fargo elementary schools – one of eight districts in the United States participating this year.

The 10-week pilot program is supported by the district’s three-year federal Physical Education Program grant. If successful, the program is slated to continue through the three years, grant administrator Ramona Borke said.

The program’s aim is to help combat childhood obesity and encourage kids to be more fit.

“Our PE classes just aren’t long enough or often enough to be able to do that,” Borke said of kids needing 150 minutes of exercise a week.

To help with that, students will keep a daily log, recording a point for each task they complete:

  • Eight to 11 hours of sleep per night.

  • One hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

  • One hour or less of TV, computers or video games.

  • Five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables.

  • No sugar-added drinks.

The program awards kids incentives such as sporting event tickets. Banks said it’s an effective way to embed healthy behaviors in kids, dismissing the concern that the daily logs could trigger negative behaviors such as eating disorders.

“It’s a program that’s mostly focused on positives, like eating fruits and vegetables, getting sleep … instead of restricting things,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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