February was an active month for students of the West Liberty University College of Education. They have been busy learning about and sharing new ways to incorporate physical activity into school children’s daily lives.
During the week of Feb. 13, several dozen WLU students participated in a professional development workshop centered on increasing physical activity in the physical education classroom and the regular classroom as well. Greg Haberfield, Buckeye Local School District PEP Grant Coordinator, secured a grant to provide SPARK training. (SPARK is a research-based, public health organization dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote lifelong wellness). He invited local colleges and universities to join the sessions in an effort to promote education that is centered on non-competitive activities. The goal is to increase the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity in which students engage throughout the school day.
Later that same week, over 75 WLU College of Education students gathered in the ASRC Boyle Conference Room on campus to hear Mary Weikle from the W.Va Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools speak about the Let’s Move! WV initiative. The Let’s Move! WV initiative is a campaign challenging schools to incorporate at least 15 additional minutes of physical activity into the school day each day of the week. Increased physical activity is believed to offer substantial benefits for students, including decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved attendance, decreased stress levels and improved behavior. Weikle showed the students how easy it is to incorporate physical activity into the everyday classroom environment through fun activities such as “Finger and Thumb,” “Active Rock, Paper, Scissors,” and “Paper Aerobics.”
Students of WLU’s Health and Human Performance Department also participated in a health fair at the West Liberty Elementary PTA meeting. Students from Instructor Melissa Hudson’s “Elementary Health Education and School Health: Instruction and Legalities” courses hosted six different health fair booths for students and parents to explore.
“While the parents’ meeting was in session, the WLU students provided high-activity games for the children, including tag games like ‘I See, I See’ and ‘Cookie Monster.’ The children also played with hula hoops, scooters and bean bags,” Hudson said.
When the meeting was adjourned, the WLU students hosted health fair booths with information on smoking cessation, BMI and body composition analysis, the health benefits of soccer and the importance of incorporating milk into the diet. Parents of more than 20 elementary pupils visited the booths and talked with the WLU students about ways to improve the overall health of their children and their families.