‘Fuel Up’ grant helps kids get active
March 27. 2013 9:57AM
At Valley Spring Elementary, fourth graders are sitting on big, bouncy balls instead of desk chairs. Sitting on the balance orbs improves core muscles, the kids say.
The school has two new balance beams and a bunch of hula hoops, and that’s not all.
Everything was paid for by a federal Fuel Up to Play 60 grant. All four Brandon Valley grade schools are sharing $16,000 to get exercise equipment, food and other items designed to make students healthier.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program founded by the National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with USDA, according to fueluptoplay60.com. The site encourages kids to be active at least 60 minutes every day. They can log on and track their progress, earning points along the way.
Each of Brandon Valley’s grade schools is using their money a little differently, Gay Anderson said. As food service director for Brandon Valley, Anderson is involved in helping the schools design their Fuel Up programs.
While Valley Springs Elementary is using its money for exercise and fitness equipment, Fred Assam Elementary bought a TV, DVD player and DVDs to use during short fitness breaks where kids will do yoga and zumba, for example.
Brandon Elementary is creating a fitness center that kids can use in the mornings before school. Equipment will include resistance tubing, balance activities and some mini games.
Robert Bennis Elementary bought a K’Nect fitness system that has 12 fitness pads. Students will use the system during physical education classes.
“Having a healthy body leads to having a healthy mind,” Valley Springs Elementary Principal Kristi Nelson said.
At her school, the student council members are taking the lead in promoting the Fuel Up program, helping classmates sign up on the website.
“You can go on the website and say what you ate and what activity you did,” fourth-grader Avery Vis said.
Fifth-grader Johnny Ackerman said he plans to become more fit by using the program. He already ran two miles in three days.
Fifth grader Tashlynne Badger is more aggressive in her training. She ran just over three miles in less than an hour, and her family plans to participate in the Disney 5K run next time they visit Disney World.
Anderson said the Fuel Up grant will pay for nutrition as well as fitness. All four grade schools are getting equipment to make smoothies “for a breakfast on-the-run for students who may not have had any breakfast,” she said. “Each school is working on various ways they will implement the smoothies and also how we will incorporate some classroom visits to promote better nutrition.”
Each school also is holding a writing contest. Twelve winners will be chosen at each school, and they will have their photos taken with colorful fruits and vegetables. The photos will be put onto 16x20 posters to be hung in their school’s lunchrooms.
Students from all four schools manned a booth at last week’s health fair to let others know about Fuel Up to Play 60 and the benefits of fitness. It’s a goal shared by the Fuel Up program.
“We want kids to make a difference not only in their lives, but also their community,” the Fuel Up website says.