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Minnesota Schools Encouraged to Enter Fitness Competition | News

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Minnesota Schools Encouraged to Enter Fitness Competition

Schools across Minnesota are signing up to compete in a national competition to show just how innovative they can be when it comes to physical education. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be given away to the winners.

Among the contenders--Meadowview Elementary in Farmington is gunning for the grand prize.

At Meadowview, kids get 25 minutes of physical education every other day. But if you ask teacher Joe McCarthy, that's not nearly enough. "We would like it every day if possible," he said. "It makes kids healthy and active for a lifetime."

In Minnesota, schools aren't give minimum physical education requirements. McCarthy thinks it should be a mandatory part of every curriculum. But in the meantime, he's created a three-pronged approach to keep the kids at Meadowview constantly moving.

First, there's what's called "The Jammin' Minute"--60-second desk-side workouts, several times a day. The kids dance and jog and shuffle and move, doing jumping jacks, kicking their feet out in front them, etc. According to Jennifer Molitor, a 4th grade teacher, "When they sit back down they're ready to listen and ready to work again."

Second, there's the "Running Club" at recess. Participation is voluntary but kids earn points toward fitness-related gifts like speedometers.

And third, there's at-home recreation that's monitored by parents. Some say it's changed their kids' priorities. For example, Jill Liebers, the mom of both a 1st grader and a 5th grader at Meadowviw, said, "I can't get them to sit more than 10 minutes with an I-Pod now. They always want to be active."

And now, Meadowview's plan for action is in the running to win the "Active Schools Acceleration Project"--a contest created to combat the fact that one third of all kids in the U.S. are now considered to be obese. The judges will be looking for creativity and innovation, but not necessarily anything too elaborate or expensive.

The group HealthPartners, out of Bloomington, is one of the project's sponsors. Explained Senior Vice President Donna Zimmerman, "They're looking for things that are simple to do, that don't cost a lot of money, and that will have some measurable results."

The kids at Meadowview, though, all seem to site the same, rather immeasurable result. Said one 4th grader, "Movement makes you happy."

One of his classmates added, "Sometimes I like feeling out of breath and it makes me happy."

And a third chimed in, "And working out makes me feel happy. It just does."

It's not too late for your child's school to enter the "Active Schools Acceleration Project." Click here for more information: http://www.activeschoolsasap.org The deadline is April 2nd.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com



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