2018-01-11 / Living

Bustin’ a move

Staff at South Bendle help instill good nutrition and fitness habits in new year
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

Skylah Bachman participates in brain breaks in TaShira Wallace’s second grade class. Wallace was part of a winning team in a fitness challenge. 
Photo provided Skylah Bachman participates in brain breaks in TaShira Wallace’s second grade class. Wallace was part of a winning team in a fitness challenge. Photo provided BURTON — When the new year starts, people feel they have a fresh start. TaShira Wallace, second grade teacher at South Bendle Elementary, said better nutrition and fitness often becomes part of people’s goals for the new year because they make people feel good and they are two things people can control.

“Each year, we hope to do better than the year before,” Wallace said.

Wallace said it’s important to teach children about nutrition and fitness at the K-2 level because at this stage, children are learning things they won’t forget, whether that learning involves math or reading or is simply about not blurting out while others are talking.

“Fitness is the same way,” Wallace said. “When you teach kids fitness at a young age, they are more likely to enjoy it.”

This year, a group called Hype will be coming to Wallace’s class to talk about hygiene, as well as introduce them to healthy food they’ve never had before.

“We get recipes,” Wallace said. “The kids give the food a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The teacher participates, too. It shows the kids we try new things to. I learned from my kids’ pediatrician it takes 15 times to try something before you know if you like it. There’s some truth to it. I used to hate Brussels sprouts, but after about 10 tries, I like them.”

Wallace said teachers at South Bendle teach children fitness is more than seeing their parents go to the gym or use equipment at home.

“They play volleyball, hockey, kickball and dodgeball in gym class,” she said. “We teach them fitness is play, and play is fun.”

At the beginning of the school year, a walk-a-thon was held. During the walk-a-thon, the kids are told seven laps around the playground’s track is a mile. If they walk a mile, they get colorful brag tags they can use a as a necklace, bracelet or key chain.

“Because of that, our students are continuing to be active in 2018,” Wallace said. “Most brag tags are given for academic reasons, but we found a way to use them to encourage fitness. They come to us and say they walked a mile during recess and ask for a brag tag.”

Another way the staff encourages fitness is through brain breaks, activities given to students often after sitting still for a long period of time. The teachers use website called GoNoodle, which has videos embedded in the website that are safe for kids. The videos feature different groups moving along to music the students can move along with.

“Some songs are silly,” Wallace said. “Some songs are songs we hear every day, but kind of a kid bop version. Some are academic. One tells them not to read like a robot. In another one, they pretend they’re on a roller coaster. They lean to one side, lean another way, scream and pose for a picture.”

In the Crim Fall for Fitness Challenge put together by the Greater Flint Health Coalition, the staff at South Bendle Elementary School was the third-place winner in the small business division for having 2,277 average minutes of fitness within a month per participant.

“I was excited to get to my own fitness goals and brought that excitement about fitness into the classroom,” Wallace said.

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