Southdown Primary School has signed onto a new crusade and it’s asking parents to get behind the initiative. Faculty members are already doing their part and students are excited.
Southdown is encouraging all youngsters in the building to eat healthy and get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The benefits are multifold, including a greater level of overall fitness along with improved learning and academic achievement.
About 50 million young people are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) America hopes that by the time the youngest of the current students graduate in 2029, every one of them will be empowered to lead healthy and active lives through effective health and physical education programs.
Southdown School believes exercises
stimulates brain function.
SHAPE’s 50 Million Strong campaign “is a call to action for all of America’s health and physical educators to unite and focus on a common purpose; getting all of the nation’s children physically active, enthusiastic and committed to making healthy lifestyle choices,” according to the organization.
“With passage of the federal Every Child Succeeds Act, health and physical education instruction is identified as part of a student’s ‘well rounded’ education and is considered integral to a child’s school experience and development,” Southdown Principal Scott Oshrin said. “Brain science strongly supports the link between movement and learning. The brain and the body’s movement learning systems are interdependent and interactive.”
Southdown physical education teacher Lynn Hefele attended action based learning training last summer. “Lynn will be providing professional development activities for teachers, which focus on movement techniques that prepare the brain for learning, improve memory retention, reinforce academic concepts and balance brain chemicals while experiencing whole-brain, whole-body learning,” Mr. Oshrin said.
Occupational therapist Linda Malloy and classroom teacher Kim Myers-Bender are researching and sharing so-called brain breaks. “These are short, energizing bursts of activity that boost blood flow, send oxygen to the brain and help kids better retain information,” Mr. Oshrin said.
As part of the campaign, Southdown is utilizing Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and National Football League in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.
“This program will be run through the student council,” Mr. Oshrin said. “Student ambassadors under the direction of teachers Patrice Monks, Soraya Romero-Treissl, Adam Sherrard and Mrs. Hefele will focus on changing and implementing health, nutrition and fitness programs throughout the year.”
Fuel Up to Play 60 is currently in 73,000 US schools, encouraging students on every grade level to eat healthy and get a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Parents can learn more about the program by visiting .
A fitness reading trail is also being developed at Southdown to help students reach the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The trail will be created and funded by the physical education department with the assistance of reading teacher Christina Droskoski,” Mr. Oshrin said.
The Southdown principal has also purchased some kinesthetic classroom furniture and tools through his budget. “These chairs, therapy bands and sensory seat cushions allow students to fidget and move, which increases their ability to focus,” Mr. Oshrin said.
Southdown’s Fit Finders Recess Running Club funded by the Steinberg family is also back in action. It encourages third and fourth graders to walk, jog or run during recess. Students receive sneaker charms for every set of 20 laps they complete.
“Fuel Up to Play 60 is a great way for children to eat healthy, get active and make a difference at Southdown,” Mrs. Hefele said. “We look forward to a school year of positive, healthy changes through Fuel Up to Play 60!”