It’s hardly your typical lesson plan — toe-touches, squats, jumping jacks and arm-pumps accompany classroom curriculum.
But thanks to the innovative approach, Shawnee Elementary School is looking a bit more fit these days.
Huron Schools received a $1,000 startup grant this school year to implement the national “Let’s Move!” program in its classrooms.
Twice per week, school nurse Janis Wallace leads classrooms in various physical activities, with one day designated for relaxing yoga and another for more vigorous exercises. For about a half hour, students complete the tasks alongside their desks, and they typically coincide with schoolwork.
“They were learning about telling time this week, so we used a clock to count time in between our exercises,” Wallace explained.
The overall goals of “Let’s Move!” are:
•Promote student health and fitness.
•Enhance concentration, provide stress relief and improve students’ readiness to learn.
•Assist students in meeting their daily physical activity goal of 60 minutes per day.
The fairly new program, pioneered by First Lady Michelle Obama, strives to combat childhood obesity.
Some argue physical activity in schools is more important than ever, at a time when more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new effort seems to be working at Shawnee Elementary School, based on its student reviews.
“I’m tired,” Kendall Camp said in March, catching her breath, yet still smiling after an intense math class.
Classmates Bella Rogers and Charlie Hardy chimed in, noting that their legs were a bit sore — but all three students agreed they didn’t mind feeling the burn.
“It’s different, and it makes class fun,” Hardy said. “We look forward to it every week”
In addition to a physical activity grant, Huron Schools also received a grant this year to offer more healthy meal choices for both its staff members and students.
A “Let’s Move Salad Bars to School” grant from the United Fresh Produce Association will provide three portable salad bar units for the district, complete with utensils, storage containers, dividers and ice packs. Each unit’s value is more than $2,800, making the grant worth more than $8,400 total.
The salad bars should be available before the end of the school year.
The district has also applied for a $5,000 “Farm to School” grant through the Ohio Department of Education, which would provide a fourth electric salad bar unit, Huron Schools food service director Sue Whitaker said.