12/21/05 — School introduces fitness program

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School introduces fitness program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 21, 2005 1:47 PM

Students and staff are beating a path to Brogden Primary School, thanks to a program that is changing attitudes about exercise.

The school has created a "Mileage Club" begun to improve students' scores on the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test.

Teachers Mary Franklin and Brooks Daly already do their part by teaching classes throughout the week, but opted to also include students who aren't scheduled for time in the gym. The notion of a mileage club was prompted by a county staff development seminar the two attended.

With the epidemic concern across the nation about childhood obesity and inactivity among young people, the program is a natural response to offset the problem, Brogden principal Wendy Hooks said. It is designed to help classroom teachers introduce daily exercise as an option during recess time.

"The idea was to help students have a positive attitude about exercise," Mrs. Hooks said. "It's been working. The program is already helping students and staff feel more confident about themselves and working toward achieving goals."

Incentives are given to encourage participation, Mrs. Hooks said. A card records individual progress, with participants earning tokens for every five miles they run or walk. Tokens are worn on a necklace provided by the school.

At certain benchmarks, there are special tokens. At 25 miles, for example, there is a runner token; at 50 miles, a giant foot; and for 75 miles, a mileage club bracelet.

The reward system has been so successful that in the first two months of the program, the school ran out of the tokens it had ordered for the entire school year.

"Children are begging their teachers to take them out to run," Mrs. Hooks said.

Teachers and staff are also picking up the pace and can be seen wearing an array of tokens around their neck, she said. There are also competitions within classes to reach goals.

Wendy Dickerson's fourth grade is having a race to the beach, seeing which students can run or walk the distance it would take to reach the coast.

Third graders in Michelle Cotton's class display feet around the classroom door with names of students who reached the 5-mile mark.

"You wouldn't believe how excited they are to get that necklace and token," Mrs. Hooks said. "Some staff members, you wouldn't believe how many feet are on their necklaces."

She said Mrs. Franklin has made sure everyone at the school understands the program. Teachers and staff can often be seen walking with the students.

"It's very rewarding to see what children and staff can do together," Mrs. Hooks said. "We have almost made a beaten path behind the school where the p.e. teachers marked it off for a mile."

Mrs. Hooks said the program has been a good way to incorporate wellness at all ages and will continue throughout the school year. At the end, there will be incentives and prizes given to the top girl and boy who took part.

"We don't have any children who have said no, even children who have asthma," she said. "They can still walk."