Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Healthy Students

by Yvonne Yates
Director of School Services, KLRN

As educators, it is our job to ensure that our students are lifelong learners who thirst to know more about everything--knowledge that will extend far beyond the classroom’s lessons in Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies. As an avid reader and seeker of knowledge, I remember reading an interesting quote that made me reflect on my goals as a teacher. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” What was I doing to make sure that my students where healthy, both physically and mentally?

In 2008, the year that I turned a decade older, I took it upon myself to run the Inaugural San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon. Take into account that I had never run more than half a mile in my life, and here I was committing to running 26.2 miles. Many thought I was crazy, which reflecting back, I might have had a temporary moment of insanity. The ideas to do this came from my sister who had done a full marathon two years prior. She said it changed her life. What better way to celebrate another decade of my life then to subject my body and mind to a commitment of running this full marathon? Training started in June and continued until the marathon in mid-November. I gave up sleeping in on Saturday mornings and caffeine, and changed my eating habits to ensure that my body did not go into total shock from all this exercise.

The school year began in August, and I told my class about the personal goal I had taken on that summer. They asked why I wanted to do this and also what I would gain from it. The answers were simple. I wanted to celebrate with a lifestyle change, and I would gain a healthier body and mind from this commitment. My students helped me train during the week, reminding me to drink plenty of water and asking me first thing in the morning if I had done my cross-training. They held me accountable for my commitment.

The evening before the marathon, I laid out all my gear for next morning and went to bed early. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and was at the starting line--teeth chattering and hands freezing. It was a cold morning. The start gun when off and thousands of runners/walkers were off. At about mile seven, I took a wrong step and hurt my knee; I didn’t feel it until mile 13. I was in pain. Just as I was thinking of quitting, I was hurt after all, I saw them. There where my students holding up signs and cheering me on. They cheered me on from mile 13 all the way to the finish line. I finished with a very unimpressive time but it did not matter, I finished.

I came back to work on Tuesday to a classroom full of questions and newspaper articles. My students had been bitten by the running bug and there was no going back. We made a classroom initiative to be healthy--both mentally and physically. We walked two laps at recess to get our hearts pumping, and we had brain breaks to rest our minds when things were getting a bit too stressful and intense in class. It was a great year for all of us. We learned together that our bodies, when taken care of properly, would do amazing things. About a week ago, I got an email from a former student informing me that she was going to be doing the San Antonio Marathon this year. She remembers how much fun it was to watch and now she wanted to be a part of it.

In 1994, the third week of October officially became “National Health Education Week.” It is not only the Physical Education and Health teacher’s job to make certain that students are making conscience food and lifestyle choices. National Health Education Week is an excellent opportunity to engage communities and schools to focus on important health issues that affect our society. The Mayor’s Fitness Council launch on Saturday, October 16 at Woodlawn Lake Park is one way that the Alamo City is taking a step to be a healthier community.

My question to you this month is: How do you encourage your students to make healthy lifestyle choices to promote a better working classroom environment? Use the comment box below to share your response.

1 comment:

  1. It is a tremendous undertaking to incorporate healthy living and lifestyles in our already compacted curriculums yet it is important with rising obesity rates in this country. How do you manage it? It must take a miracle. Not exactly but it does take a community. (Once again that adage "It takes a village to raise a child" ring true.) In my school we begin from the first day of school working with the parents, cafeteria staff, and gym teachers. It begins with a lesson on the three types of foods (GO! Slow! Whoa!). In the hallway next to the cafeteria are three large pieces of butcher paper: green (Go!), yellow (Slow!), red (Whoa!). Students are invited and encouraged to bring magazine cut outs of food and place them on the appropriate paper on the way to the cafeteria each day. The next step is maintaining this in the classrooms. Everyday the daily lunch choices are written on the board in the correct color. What color you may ask? You guessed it! Green for Go!, Yellow for Slow! and red for Whoa!. For example, if the choice is salad, it is written in green. If the choice is pizza, it is written in yellow. If the choice is chocolate (which it never is, of course) it is written in red. Daily, the students are made aware of their food choices and what category they fall into. Be forewarned though. The students might actually begin calling you out on your snacks and lunch choices in the classroom as well.


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