Elementary school add 175 minutes of physical activity each week - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Elementary school adds 175 minutes of physical activity each week

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CHARLOTTE, AR (KAIT) – The Cedar Ridge School District got some alarming news recently about the students in one of its elementary schools.

According to BMI data from the Arkansas Center of Health Improvement, 51 percent of the students at Cord-Charlotte Elementary School are overweight or obese.

The school has now taken action and made some changes this school year to improve the health of its students. Administrators started a new Run/Walk program hoping that the students will pick up some healthier habits, but they say the benefits have gone further than that.

Cord-Charlotte Elementary empties every afternoon now at 2:45. Every student from kindergarten through sixth grade heads outdoors to run or walk until their parents pick them up or the buses take them home. This way, the students get an extra 175 minutes of physical activity each week.

"If you're here, we're going to ask you to run-walk with us in the afternoon," Principal Susi Epperson said. "We want the kids to know that it's not a punishment to run or walk or have some physical exercise in your day. It's needed for your body to survive."

Epperson first brought up this idea to her teachers. She claims they jumped at the chance to not only get their students more active but to also give them some more time at the end of the day to prep for classes.

"Teachers are creating better lessons, collaborating with each other," she said, "so it's just going to be better for our student achievement as well."

The kids all keep track of the number of laps they walk or run using log books in their classrooms. Every time they complete a mile, they get to add a token to a necklace that the school has given them. Teachers hope the students can reach a mile per day, but some have already reached 16 miles just three weeks since the program started.

Each mile gained is also tracked by Lisa Watts and her math students.

"They are graphing the progress of the kindergarten through sixth grade to show how many miles they've walked," Watts said.

She says the program came at a perfect time because it benefits more than just her lesson plans.

"I was diagnosed this week with diabetes and was told by my doctor that I have to do a lot of exercise and start walking and so it's incentive for me to do it every day with the kids," Watts said, "and they think it's great."

The school plans to reward the students with a school-wide celebration once they log a total of 1,000 miles, which may not take too long to complete.

"I haven't told the students exactly what [the celebration] will be," Epperson said, "but we want to make sure it's not a reward with food – that we're going to reward them with some kind of activity that they'll enjoy."

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