Summit County program promotes wellness in local schools
Ryan Summerlin November 15, 2012
Silverthorne Elementary School is one of 30 schools nationwide in the running for a $15,000 interactive sportswall to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. Voting for the contest ends Saturday.
The Silverthorne Elementary Wellness Team submitted a short essay to enter to win a sportswall “exergaming” unit. The interactive sportswall combines technology with physical activity and would be mounted inside the gymnasium allowing additional curriculum for students, faculty and the community.
The Physical Activity and Nutrition Team of the Summit (PANTS) coalition established such wellness teams in Summit County, and has been the driving force of numerous wellness programs across the county.
Silverthorne Elementary would be among the first schools in the country to have such technology offered to its students.
After applying for the sportswall, Silverthorne Elementary was one of 30 schools in the nation selected for the final round. Silverthorne is the only school in Colorado that was selected.
The systems will be used to help bolster physical education and health classes throughout the state, said Renee Rogers, with Summit County PANTS program.
Players use their own body movement to control the video games, a method Rogers and others in the Wellness team believe can help improve student health.
“It all adds up to more minutes of physical activity,” she said.
The “exergaming” unit adds to the long list of wellness programs, daily activities and outreach seminars that are offered by the Summit PANTS program.
The coalition has been involved in many projects such as the community walk ability study, implementation and funding for community gardens and free lunch seminars.
This group has five task forces of community members throughout the county focusing on promoting active community environments, wellness in schools, community gardens and worksite wellness.
The influence of the PANTS wellness teams have been most felt at elementary schools in the county with the Minute of Movement event that promotes activity during the classroom setting to encourage healthy lifestyles.
The group also caters school events throughout the year with healthy food items.
“So often, class parties have a lot of sweet foods like cupcakes, candy and sodas,” Rogers said. “So we’ve started a program where we’ll cater fruit and vegetable trays instead – we really want to make it something the students can get used to.”
The students, laughing as they cut loose during the Minute of Movement while they tried to imitate their teacher’s moves, have begun to take notice of wellness team members in their schools.
“The wellness teams go into the schools and we always have something good to eat, something fun to do and the kids love it,” Rogers said. “When they see us now they’re excited to see what we have going on in school that day.”
On any given day, students might be seen dancing, running on a treadmill, eating healthy foods and taking extra recesses – all part of the PANTS program to install healthy habits.