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Fitness is Contagious at Giberson Elementary

Janet Schafer,   Giberson Elementary School
Physical Activity Participation

It started with the physical education teacher, Janet Schafer. A deep desire existed within her to see kids consistently eat healthy and exercise at least 60 minutes each day. The challenge? She could not force these students to do this, it had to come from within them. Television, junk food, transitive family life and video games all mounted a challenge to reaching that goal. The strategy? Get the students excited about what they are doing and how they feel and watch the growth. Ms. Schafer brought a lot of positive energy into P.E. class and encouraged the students to have goals and set on a course to reach them. Important health concepts like “cardio vascular endurance”, “strength and flexibility”, “moderate to vigorous activity”, “hydration”, and “workload” were not just taught in the P.E. class, they were experienced. The 4th and 5th grade classes took it on themselves to make something happen. Ms. Schafer initiated the 4-minute challenge earlier in the year to see how many laps the students could run around the gym in 4 minutes. At the beginning of the year, they were at 6 laps. Now, they have progressed and are running 12 laps…what amazing growth. Positive movement creates more positive movement. Many of these same students then became involved in the 100-mile walk, committing personal time after-school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to take the challenge of walking over 100 miles during the school year. A handful of them completed this challenge months ahead of schedule! Other students chose to get involved with Jump Rope for Heart to raise money for the American Heart Association. They learned that fitness can be a means not only to help oneself, but others as well. Parallel to these efforts, Ms. Schafer brought FUTP 60 to the school and created a student-led fitness team to encourage involvement from all students to exercise and eat healthy. This fitness delegation played an integral role in the creation of the FUTP 60 video that won an award, brought to Giberson local network news teams and was highlighted in the local newspaper. The school was on fire for fitness and healthy eating. The Giberson student community has experienced an evolution, or even a revolution, to becoming a healthier student body. It is now a lifestyle for many of the students at Giberson Elementary, not just a dream for Janet Schafer.

How did students and adults work together as a team?

The teachers came down and encouraged and actually walked with the students in the 100-mile walking club. Also, there were teachers and parents that jumped rope with our kids in the Jump Rope for Heart. Finally, while we were doing the 4-minute challenge, I ran along with the kids to encourage them.

What improvements have you seen at your school?

The pride in eating healthy and exercising has increased incredibly. It has instilled a great sense of teamwork as they work together to reach their goals.