Let's Get Fit
Emery County School District receives federal grant to improve fitness levels in students
|The students work every muscle group in the body each day, Jesse Nell works out the legs.|
The Department of Education recently awarded the Emery County School District with a grant of $587,100 through the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress Act to improve the physical education program within the district. The grant will fund 90 percent of the project, with the other funds coming from an in-kind donation from the district.
The grant provides the means for the district to provide students with the tools they need to improve their fitness levels for their lifetime. Working with the National School Fitness Foundation, the district will receive a curriculum that has been proven through use in more that 150 schools across the country. The curriculum, titled the "LIFT America Program," was developed in conjunction with some of the top minds in the country.
The LIFT America Program includes a state of the art Fitness Center that provides students with the opportunity to raise their fitness levels with the use of a circuitÃ¯Â¿Â½a technique developed by Dr. Kenneth Cooper who is the foremost authority on this topic and a member of the NSFF Scientific Board of Advisors. The Green River High School and Canyon View and San Rafael Junior High Schools will all have these new Fitness Centers installed by the end of the year, to begin instruction to students in early 2003. Each of the six elementary schools in the district will also receive additional equipment.
"We are extremely eager to work with the Emery School District to help the students improve their levels of fitness," stated Cameron Lewis, the President of the NSFF. "We know our program works and provides students with a new outlook on physical activity and can improve their fitness levels. With this grant, we can now effect the life of every student within the district."
The LIFT America Program is not like other traditional PE programs where competition is the focus and students are graded based on physical ability alone. The success of each student in the program is based on "baseline measurements," or their ability when they begin the program and their improvement at predetermined times. All students in the program can be successful with a little effort and focus.
|Zallanea Kingsford works out on the new fitness equipment.|
Students in other areas of the country have experienced a significant improvement in their levels in the key indicators of fitnessÃ¯Â¿Â½body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. In some schools, students have improved their muscular strength and endurance by 34 percent. The other indicators of fitness have shown similar improvements.
Of the 173 recipients of this grant nationwide, Emery School District received the largest portion. The equipment and program are already running at Emery High under the instruction of Coach Darrell Gardner. "The kids are really enjoying the program. We work on the four different components of physical fitness. We also emphasize stretching which is done on the floor between work on the machines. The students were tested at the beginning of the school year and were supposed to be tested again at the semester, but we were curious to see what was going on so we tested at the quarter. In most cases blood pressure has gone down. There has been a 3 percent improvement already. Their body fat has been reduced, strength increased and their cardio strength and endurance has improved as well as their resting heart rate has been lowered. We are really pleased with the results so far. The machines touch every muscle group. The students begin their workout by changing into their gym clothes. They then go to the gym and jog in place to warm up and elevate the heart rate. We try to keep their heart rates elevated throughout the workout. They work on the machines and then in the middle of the room we have the stair steppers and they alternate between them and the machines. It takes about 35 minutes to work through the entire circuit. The machine adjustments are customized for each student. For some of the students this is the only exercise they get.
"The faculty and staff are also required to use the facility to improve their physical health as well. The facility is not open to the public. The students were all tested at the beginning for various areas of fitness. We also have a machine which determines body composition and their body fat percentage. All sophomores are required to take the class, it helps fulfill the healthy lifestyles requirement. We also teach the students a little about nutrition as it relates to fitness. I let them know that drinking one soda pop a day for a year can add 12 pounds to your weight.
"The kids can choose the music they listen to while they work out as long as I can stand it. The kids like the oldies, disco and stuff like that. But, I draw the line at rap. Exercise is just great for you. It sends oxygen to your brain, it's good therapy," said Coach Gardner.