Innovative fitness and obesity programs at Massachusetts schools reap rewards
Several area schools were honored this week for making significant headway in the fight against childhood obesity.
On Monday, Governor Deval Patrick and other state officials visited the Salemwood School in Malden to announce that it would be receiving a new $100,000 fitness center as a reward for “their efforts in promoting physical fitness innovation and healthy living standards to their students.”
Salemwood has an “active wellness” committee to monitor students’ physical and emotional wellness, and the school has implemented nearly hour-long gym and health classes two to three times per week. They also have a 30 minute daily recess.
Two other schools in Massachusetts, Henry Lord Middle School in Fall River and South Lawrence East Middle School in Lawrence, were also named National Champion Schools by the Governors’ Fitness Council and will be receiving new gyms financed through a public/private sector partnership with companies including Coca-Cola.
Former President Bill Clinton also recognized four schools in the Boston earlier this week for “making their campuses into places where healthy eating and physical activity are prioritized and promoted.” William E. Russell Elementary School, Richard J. Murphy K-8 School, Kennedy Health Career High School, and the Tech Boston Academy all were honored -- though with no monetary reward or free gym -- at the Healthy Schools Program Forum in Little Rock, Ark.
Some of the initiatives these schools implemented could be readily adopted by any public school, so parents may want to take note and bring some ideas to the next PTA meeting.
-- William E. Russell Elementary School officials restructured their physical education curriculum to add more vigorous activity and trained staff in indoor and outdoor recess games. They also started a fresh fruit and vegetable snack program.
-- Richard J. Murphy K-8 School students started charting their walking progress with the use of pedometers and by joining various walking clubs. The school has eliminated access to vending machines and offers a healthy cooking class.
-- Kennedy Health Center High School adopted a “health lives” motto and removed soda and high-sugar snacks, ending the practice of rewarding students with candy, integrating more health education into lessons, and adding more fitness classes.
-- Tech Boston Academy enlisted local farmers to donate produce once a week to provide students with local fruits and vegetables. School officials also opened their gym for use before school and increased the amount of physical education classes.Deborah Kotz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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Elizabeth Comeau, Senior Health Producer