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Happier and Healthier...I Did It!

Therese Anfield,   John Tibbott Elementary School
Access to Healthy Foods,  Physical Activity Participation
Happier and Healthier...I Did It!

As a teacher, this kind of success story is what I strive for in all my students. As a Program Advisor for Fuel Up to Play 60, this is the kind of success story that inspires me and also melts my heart. A particular student, Anthony, became a member of our Fuel Up to Play 60 team last year and said he enjoyed coming to the meetings. Honestly, Anthony is one of the most polite gentlemen in our school who is very quiet and to himself but always looks at you respectfully in the eyes, and greets you with a smile. This sincere quality along with Anthony’s quiet demeanor was something I noticed in all the classes and meetings he came to. This year, there was a change in Anthony. He seemed to come out of his shell somewhat and showed a personal confidence and strong self-esteem that wasn’t noticeable before. I was told by his teacher that his mom said he had been running and working out with weights at home and was taking a strong interest in his nutrition, striving to become healthier. In PE, he always gave great effort in our Run for Your Life (last year’s Physical Activity Play for Fuel Up to Play 60) challenge and collected many tokens as he learned he could run about 3-4 minutes without stopping. Anthony approached me recently and asked if he could start coming to The Fuel Up to Play 60 meetings again this year. He hadn’t been able to come earlier because of a time commitment but wanted to come! I asked him if he would like to share his story with everyone and he said yes. This shy student had transformed into a confident student who said he was proud of what he accomplished for himself. I sat down and talked with Anthony and wanted to know what made him decide to start his own workout and eating regimen. He shared that running last year and earning those tokens made him feel proud but he knew that if he ate sensibly too, then he could shed some weight which would be healthier for him. I congratulated him and asked him how that made him feel. He replied, “I feel healthier and happier. I am so proud that I did it!” That reply pretty much sums up this Success Story. And yet, now I feel Fuel Up to Play 60 can affect other students in much the same way as Anthony and can affect students in all sorts of ways. Whether it be to become more physically active or to just be aware and eat and drink sensibly, or both! That can translate into many more success stories in our school’s future!

How do you plan to make this Play last during the school year and beyond?

A combination of our physical and nutrition play is what made the difference in this student's life....and many others, I am happy to say. Last year, we started the Run for Your Life physical activity play and continued it this year. This year our Snack Smarter play evolved into having students keep track in their personal chart of eating a fruit or vegetable everyday and drinking all of their milk during their meal. They checked off a box every time they accomplished these goals. These are two plays that will continue.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

A challenge was for some students who don't see the benefits of nutrition and exercise and try to avoid the activity and the reasonable advice of eating right. However, when students like Anthony have personal success and the students notice it, it shines a light on how important eating right and exercise can work to make one healthier and happier. I like that Anthony was willing to share his story even though he is a very shy student who doesn't like to talk in front of people. '

What improvements have you seen at your school?

The best improvement that I can see is the ATTITUDE of many students who now want to join our FUTP 60 team. I believe students always thought it was about exercise but now they are starting to realize how important the nutrition part eating healthy foods and drinking all their milk. I want to continue this focus next year, especially the nutrition part. I see from the posters students make and hang in the school that they are starting to get it!