HISD to get $1M to fight obesity

March 10, 2008 1:18:57 PM PDT
HISD will be able to buy much needed fitness equipment through the Texas Fitness Now Program to help 30,000 children at 46 schools. Students at these schools will be able to use fitness equipment to avoid becoming a statistic in the growing nation-wide problem of childhood obesity and type II diabetes.The Texas Education Agency awarded more than $1 million to HISD to benefit physical-education programs for students in sixth through eight grades. The Board of Education will vote on the acceptance of the funds during its Thursday meeting.

The purpose of the Texas Fitness Now program is to support existing physical-education in schools were at least 75 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged. The funding support provides an opportunity for ten HISD elementary schools and 36 middle schools to purchase sports-related equipment and fitness materials designed to strengthen the instructional health and physical education programs.

"Due to the increased rates of obesity and type II diabetes among the youth of today, a primary focus is to create a learning environment that allows for maximum student participation in physical activity," said HISD Manager of Secondary Health & Physical Education Rose Haggerty. "We want our students to be successful learners, therefore it is important that they understand the benefits of regular physical activity, making healthy food choices and the positive impact this may have on academic achievement."

"Some of the physical fitness equipment we will be able to buy includes heart monitors, treadmills, aerobics machines, and exciting new technology such as dance evolution, which kids will love," said Health and Physical Education Teacher Cheryl Davis. "Exercising will seem less like work for the students since the new equipment will make it fun to get physically and psychologically fit."

Davis has been teaching health and physical education for 29 years. She currently teaches students in grades six and eight at Welch Middle School. She says that when students are in middle school they go through a developmental stage that is critical for their physical and emotional growth.

"There has been a rise in diabetes and obesity among juveniles and it's important to target this age group early on," added Davis. "We want to educate them about the importance of nutrition and physical activities set an example that they can follow throughout their lives."

The funds will also allow health and physical education teachers to invite health consultants to the schools to re-enforce these important health lessons.

"The nutrition education that student will receive through this program will help them learn about the cause and effect of serious diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes," said HISD Manager of Nutritional Services and Licensed Dietician Kelly Swanzy. "And they will be able to make better food choices to live healthier lives."


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