Childhood obesity is an epidemic affecting many of the youth in America today. Approximately one in three children are either overweight or obese, which has doubled in kids under twelve and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. There are many different reasons for the cause of this rise in childhood obesity. According to HealthierGeneration.org, increased screen time, limited access to healthy affordable food and an abundance of marketing for unhealthy food, a lack of daily physical activity, increased portion sizes at restaurants and in prepackaged food, and a higher consumption of sugary beverages are some of the big contributors to the epidemic. Children, adolescents, and parents are also not getting the facts on how to form lifelong healthy habits both in exercise and nutrition.
So how can the Carol M. White Physical Education Grant (PEP Grant for short) help change your school and your students lives for the better? Funding from a PEP grant is intended to assist schools like South Glen Falls – a 2011 PEP grant winner – with initiating, expanding, or enhancing physical education and nutrition education programs, including after-school programs, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Athletic Director Nick Fitzgerald recounts what South Glen Falls District has been able to achieve in the last three years, “We revamped the curriculum K-12, traveled around the country to take part in professional development opportunities, conducted a number of Family Fitness Nights for the community, helped our community partners with resources, added a number of choices for the students and now have a choice model for grades 6-12 for the students to take advantage of. We upgraded our facilities and helped shaped our PE program for years to come.”
To document just how much South Glen Falls District accomplished, they published this newsletter article and put together a fantastic video highlighting their new programs. Also in the video is feedback from students, parents, and staff on the positive effects the PEP grant has had so far for classes and community building.
For many of the PEP grant winners like South Glen Falls, exergaming plays a role in transforming and improving their fitness programs. The reason for this is that exergaming provides an entirely new way of engaging students to become active. It transforms the fitness room into a game room where students can play against each other in fun fitness games, as highlighted in minute 6:30 of the video, where students are shown competing against each other while biking. These types of systems attract this younger generation of students because it so closely resembles the virtual world they are already familiar with. Because of this familiarity, even students who might not be comfortable lifting weights or running on a treadmill will gladly hop on to the Exerbike and pedal while playing their favorite video games.
In the end, the goal is to teach students how to make healthy choices both during the school day and at home. Exergame Fitness and the Carol M. White PEP Grant are working to make sure every student has the opportunity to do so.