Thanks to an $8,000 grant, Maxwell Elementary students have fun in the bag.
The School Health Index Grant has funded several innovative programs to promote wellness among students and staff, according to Maxwell P.E. Teacher India Ann Goodyear.
Taylor Herrington (right) lets Ahmad Grays pull a football out of one of the Family Fun and Fitness Duffle Bags at Maxwell Elementary.
One of those programs is the Family Fun and Fitness Duffle Bags which students take turns checking out for several days at a time. The bags include all kinds of fitness equipment -- such as balls, bean bags and jump ropes -- so that students can enjoy playing games with their families while getting exercise.
With recent national focus on childhood obesity, Mrs. Goodyear said the program is a good way to change the students' attitudes toward physical fitness.
"At the age we've got them, I always say we don't see them enough to change their fitness level, but we can change how they think about fitness," she said. "Hopefully this is a way for them to think 'That's fun. Instead of watching TV this afternoon, I think I'll go out.'"
Kindergartener Will Roberts said he played several games, especially basketball, with his father after taking the bag home.
"I like the bag because it's fun," he said.
That attitude toward the bags has been prevalent throughout the school. Mrs. Goodyear said she has received positive feedback from parents who thought they wouldn't enjoy their child's turn with the bag.
"I have been so excited at how excited the children are," Mrs. Goodyear said. "I even got an email yesterday from a parent that told me she was dreading it because it came home, and she wanted to sit and watch TV. She got out in the yard, and all four of them -- the whole family -- played and had the best time."
In fact, the kids and parents like the duffle bags so much, that not a single piece of equipment has been lost since the program began at the start of the school year.
In addition to the duffle bags, the Maxwell staff also received pedometers which count the number of steps people take. The goal is for the adults in the school to take 10,000 steps a day, which equals about five miles.
A group of fitness-minded teachers started Maxwell Educators Obtaining Wellness, or MEOW. The pedometers have helped that group tremendously, Mrs. Goodyear said.
"We've always had the teachers working on different goals, some to try to exercise daily, some to lose weight," she said. "The first week we had (the pedometers) everybody was comparing miles with each other. ...The more fit we are, the better teachers we all are."
The school's principal agrees with that and the significance of fitness for the entire school.
"As we continue to place our primary focus on the academic subjects, we are still mindful of the importance of physical education as well as the fine arts," said Maxwell Principal Mychelle Swain. "Through the fun and fitness bags, students, siblings and parents are able to not only spend time together but build their own physical well being."