Fargo school wins national 'Let's Move! Active Schools' award
FARGO - The students at Kennedy Elementary School have all the right moves. Kennedy is one of 525 schools across the nation to earn a 2015 "Let's Move!...
FARGO - The students at Kennedy Elementary School have all the right moves.
Kennedy is one of 525 schools across the nation to earn a 2015 "Let's Move! Active Schools" award.
"When I go to conferences, what I hear now is that sitting is the new smoking," said Michelle Crary, a physical education teacher who has spearheaded efforts to get students - and staff - to increase their activity and improve their health.
Crary said she and the other teachers and staff at Kennedy began to focus on exercising last year and continued this fall.
"Getting them moving is going to positively help them," she said. "We're doing the best to keep these kids as active as they can be."
Crary and Principal Jerry Hanson say kids are not only getting healthier but are more attentive and focused thanks to the extra activity before and after school, and with periodic exercise "brain breaks" or "brain boosts" during classes.
The awards go to schools committed to integrating at least 60 minutes of activity into students' days - before, during and after school.
Kennedy Elementary had to meet benchmarks in several areas, including physical education, physical activity before and after school, physical activity during school, staff involvement, and family and community engagement.
Students can participate in a "Wake Up and Walk" in the morning, Hanson said, strolling and socializing on a quarter-mile of walkways in back of the school.
"The teachers reported that when the kids came into class, they were ready to go," he said. "They weren't groggy. We were seeing the kids more alert."
"It's because of having that fresh air ... getting the blood flowing a little bit," Crary added.
Hanson said the program has also dovetailed with his own weight-loss and fitness goals.
"Two years ago, I was a cheeseburger under 300 pounds, Hanson said. "I've lost 70 pounds in the last two years. For me, staying active is a huge goal."
There is also an after-school program for fourth- and fifth-graders, Crary said. It uses equipment from the school's physical education program.
Kennedy staff and students were praised by Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the Active Schools program.
"Kennedy's faculty, staff and students are paving the way to a healthier, higher-performing, and more successful generation of youth," Burgeson said.
Crary said the award will be announced schoolwide today.
In the meantime, Crary's considering another healthy initiative: a biking and bike safety program.
"I have so many ideas," Crary said. "That's my next project."
"Let's Move! Active Schools" is part of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative.
To learn more about it, go to www.letsmoveschools.org .