Students encouraged to exercise at
Monday, July 24, 2006
By Bea Boucher
The Grand Rapids
GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP - Cardiovascular
workouts will be on the lunch menu at Jenison Junior High School starting this fall.
As part of a district-wide
effort to promote nutrition education & physical activity, the junior high is launching Cardio Cafeteria. With a $1,000
Ottawa County Health Department grant, the school is purchasing 2 elliptical machines to be placed in the cafeteria for students
to use during lunch hour, or before or after school.
"Our vision is to grow it,
to open up the gym, to have an opportunity for kids to do something over lunch," Jenison Junior High School Assistant Principal
Brandon Graham said.
The former physical education teacher
heads a 17-member committee developing Jenison Public Schools' district wellness policy. He got the idea for Cardio Cafeteria
while brainstorming about ways to get students to be physically active.
"Most kids eat in 15 minutes
& then stand around," he said. "We may look at it as a school wide-challenge: How many calories can we burn a year?"
All public school districts
must promote wellness & nutrition to meet federal & state regulations.
Cardio Cafeteria is a first
in Ottawa County, said Lisa Uganski, a registered dietitian with Ottawa County Health Department.
"We're really excited about it,"
she said. "If it catches on, if there are people in the community who want to make donations (of
fitness equipment), we could open it up not just for students but make it available for parents."
The Jenison program could
serve as a pilot for other schools, said Kandi Lannen, a registered dietitian for the Kent County Health Department &
co-chairwoman for West Michigan Action for Healthy Kids.
She said she's not aware of
anything like it in Kent County.
Cardio Cafeteria will reach
a new group of kids who may not be involved in a sport or physical activity & get them interested in physical fitness,
said Dr. Karen Dempsey, a member of Jenison's wellness committee. Peer pressure won't hurt either & could encourage participation
if they see friends using the equipment.
"It lets everyone be a teacher,
everyone be an encourager, everyone be a learner," she said.
That was the idea 2 years ago
when President Bush signed into law a federal requirement that public school districts participating in the National School
Lunch &/or School Breakfast programs develop policies addressing students' wellness & the growing problem of childhood
"Our mission is to change the school environment," said Uganski, who also serves on Jenison's wellness committee.
The district is working with
Pepsi Co. to get milk vending machines into the schools, Graham said.
Jenison/Hudsonville Food Service,
which also includes Hudsonville Public Schools, is pulling deep-fried French fries from its menu to make room for healthier
food choices. New Jenison High School options this fall will include sandwich & taco bars.
"Healthy kids equal healthy
schools equal a healthy community," Uganski said.