While we have been a Fuel Up to Play 60 School since the 2012-2013 school year, this is the second year of our Student Ambassador program. We organized a group of students for the first time last year and enjoyed the experience so much that we expanded the program this year! We currently have 31 students who meet monthly to be leaders of healthy choices at our school! This year’s projects included a Let’s Dance Fitness Friday, Veggie Taste Test Day, Walking School Bus activities during Project ACES, and our first ever Bike Safety Day which is scheduled for June, 2016.
Each Friday our school participates in Fitness Friday which encourages students and adults to exercise. As our first project, students in our program worked together to create a list of dance videos that were age and grade level appropriate. Links were created and this list was emailed to all classroom teachers for ease of access. During the Let’s Dance Fitness Friday, Student Ambassadors created posters and then chose and led dances for their peers to follow. It was a great success and the list continues to serve as a resource for classroom teachers to provide physical activity breaks in the classroom.
Project ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously) was held on May 4th and our Student Ambassadors served as “Bus Drivers of the Day” and led their classroom peers as well as their “buddy class” (a younger class that they are paired with for a variety of school events like buddy reading, etc.) using the idea of a “Walking School Bus.” This approach provided a way to promote walking as good exercise and each “bus” “drove” to nine different stations that were decided on by the ambassadors. At each station, members of the “bus” completed an exercise activity and then walked on together to the next station. At the end of the event the entire school joined together to dance!
Last year’s Veggie Taste Test Day was a success and so we decided to repeat this project with different vegetables. This project was held on May 10th. Using survey guides previously created and modified, students helped to choose new vegetables to try and then met before school to organize and distribute the food. This year’s vegetable choices included kohlrabi, red cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower. During snack time in the classrooms, Student Ambassadors explained the project and encouraged their peers to try each vegetable and fill out the survey as to whether they liked, disliked or were not sure about each new vegetable. As the program advisors for Fuel Up to Play 60 in our school, we heard many positive comments about the success of this project. It was great to repeat the project using different vegetables. Many students had never heard of kohlrabi and were surprised to see the picture that some teachers displayed during the taste test. Fitness Frankie and a classroom guinea pig enjoyed the project as well!
The last project is probably our biggest undertaking to date and will be completed after the submission of this story. In conjunction with our county Department of Transportation’s Bike Rodeo Program, our student ambassadors will be hosting a Bike Rodeo and Safety Clinic in June. Students and families will be invited to bring their bicycles and helmets to school during the evening and will participate in a series of stations involving bike safety, bike inspections, helmet use, riding skill, and more. Students and families will also create their own healthy snack by making a bicycle out of vegetables! Students came up with the idea of making a bicycle using cucumbers as the wheels (Our team name is the NPE Cucumber Crushers!), carrots as the handlebars, celery as the crossbar, and other vegetables for spokes and fenders! Sounds yummy! They are so creative!
We have had such fun and are proud of the efforts of our students. We know that the leadership experiences and knowledge they gain at this age will only help them in a variety of ways, including making healthy choices in their lives now and in the future.
How did students and adults work together as a team?
Our Student Ambassador group met once a month before school and and during our meetings we discussed, arranged, organized, and implemented each of our projects this year. Students were enthusiastic and our faculty and staff were supportive of all of their efforts to lead our students and our school to make healthier choices by being more physically active and by choosing healthier foods to eat.