Elementary school adds 175 minutes of physical activity each week

CHARLOTTE, AR (KAIT) – The Cedar Ridge School District gotsome alarming news recently about the students in one of its elementaryschools.

According to BMI data from the Arkansas Center of HealthImprovement, 51 percent of the students at Cord-Charlotte Elementary School areoverweight or obese.

The school has now taken action and made some changes thisschool year to improve the health of its students. Administrators started a newRun/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 at2:45. Every student from kindergarten through sixth grade heads outdoors to runor 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 usin the afternoon," Principal Susi Epperson said. "We want the kids to know thatit's not a punishment to run or walk or have some physical exercise in yourday. It's needed for your body to survive."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The school plans to reward the students with a school-widecelebration once they log a total of 1,000 miles, which may not take too longto 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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