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Wealth of Health Week benefits

Activities: North Park Elementary students tried to change bad habits during events earlier this wee

Posted: March 29, 2010 11:35 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.

North Park Elementary School first- and second-graders run for prizes as part of Health Week held recently at the school.

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Health Week at North Park Elementary came to a close with a strawberry relay race on March 19. The physical event capped off a five-day focus on improving students’ physical and mental health, Principal Pete Bland said.

“The goal of Health Week is for the students to be able to take on or change something that was maybe unhealthy or an unhealthy living habit,” Bland said. “A change that can sustain over a period of time.”

Several events took place throughout the week, including assemblies that focused on topics such as the food pyramid and discouraging bullying. Bland noted that the anti-bullying seminar was set up in attempt to encourage self-confidence among students.

“I think that living healthy is taking all aspects of your life and living as healthy as you can, whether it’s making the right food choices, exercising more, or being a better person,” he said.

On March 16, students took part in No TV Tuesday, a measure to drastically cut down on the amount of “screen time” — time spent in front a computer or television screen.

Fifth-grader Makenzie Bridges said No TV Tuesday posed a challenge, as it meant she had to miss her favorite show, “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“It was tough,” she said.

Likewise, fifth-grader Annabelle Kline-Zilles singled out Tuesday as especially difficult.

“It was hard, but I did it,” the 11-year-old said. “Instead, I was outside playing. It felt good.”

Several students noticed the effects of Health Week, with many saying they believed they were able to study better and had more energy.

Sixth-grader Paige Pearson credited the focus on better eating habits with her improved test scores.

“I got an A on my math test,” she said. “I usually get Bs.”

Julie Vannix, a fifth-grade teacher, confirmed the students’ concentrated effort to be healthy lead to a noticeable change in quiz scores.

“Their scores actually were pretty good,” she said. “There was an improvement in general.”

The weeklong program fostered a positive attitude throughout the campus. Students were encouraged by their teachers and administrators to make better choices, as well as their friends.

“Kids want to eat better,” Vannix said. “I think when they see their peers eating certain ways they tend to go that direction.”

This idea of positive peer pressure is one that Bland would like to encourage.

“I would love to have positive peer pressure. We want to keep it in a positive tone, of course,” he said. “If more and more kids are making healthier choices, then maybe that’ll help more and more kids make healthier choices, to make a positive change.”

The students’ reportedly sharpened focus fosters a hopefully health future, Bland said.

“When kids are healthy they probably feel better, they probably have better attention, they probably make better choices,” he said.

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