Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Changes in Health This School Year, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Changes in Health This School Year, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

If David Owens and Annette Stafford have anything to say about it, Clay County elementary and junior high school students will be a lot healthier when they leave school in May than when they arrive Thursday.

They will leave not only with more brain power, but with more body power.

The idea is to help them learn to maintain healthy habits for a lifetime.

Owens, superintendent of schools, is promoting a new supplemental physical education curriculum that will focus on how to lead healthy lifestyles, with topics ranging from wellness and nutrition to muscular strength and endurance to body image.

And Stafford, the school district's director of Food and Nutrition Services, is continuing her mission to make school meals healthier, have cafeteria promotions that push active lifestyles and reward students who jump on the bandwagon.

"There is a lot of attention today focused on inactive kids and overweight kids and on [low fitness levels in] American society in general," Owens said. "I have always been concerned about fitness. I do a lot of running, working out with weights, and I know the benefits. I want to help our kids be more fit and healthy, starting when they are little."

But such a fitness push in the schools has to be tactfully designed, he said.

"You have to be very careful and not embarrass kids. You have to make it a positive thing," he said.

The new curriculum was distributed last month to principals and physical education instructors. A training session for instructors will be held Monday at Lake Asbury Elementary. The curriculum applies to students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and is to be implemented in conjunction with existing state standards for physical skills.

The program includes:

-- Student participation in fitness assessments, such as the President's Fitness Challenge.

-- Monthly health concepts, such as nutrition and body image, to be included in lesson plans.

-- Starting at grade 3, teachers review previous grade-level concepts with students.

"We want to get them into a lot of physical activity, create habits that carry over into the after-school hours," Owens said. …

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