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J.S. Waters Elementary addresses health with innovative physical activity

By Phyllis Smith
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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Goldston, NC - Currently one in two children, ages 5 – 11 years, in Chatham County, North Carolina have been identified as a population of students identified as being in one of the following catagories -“at risk of overweight”, overweight and obese based on the height/weight measurements taken by the North Carolina Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System (NC-NPAS). Obesity is a health concern that has been termed as escalating in our community. Estimated medical costs associated with obesity/physical inactivity were greater than $2 billion in 2000.

Since 1991, Concept 2 has been offering twenty-five selected elementary and middle schools in the United States and Canada up to two Indoor Rowers for the course of the school year. In exchange, the schools must conduct simple student testing twice a year, as well as integrate rowing to their curriculum, in addition to physical activity units. “Row Together” the title of Concept 2’s program is designed to introduce young children to the fun and fitness benefits of rowing. To address the situation of obesity through increasing physical activity, Principal Gary Yoder, J. S. Waters Elementary School with the assistance of Phyllis Smith, FCE, RD, LDN Chatham County Center – North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service applied for the program.

J.S. Waters Elementary School was awarded two of the Indoor Rowers for the academic year. J.S. Waters Elementary competed for this honors against school covering the entire United States and Canada. In addition, being one of only three schools in the Southeast part of the United States, sharing their award with a school from Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia

A team consisting of Principal Gary Yoder, Lynda Burke, Health and Physical Education; Bill Neal, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education; and Phyllis Smith, Family and Consumer Science, Extension Agent formulated a plan to implement the “Row Together” program at J.S. Waters Elementary School. To meet the requirement of simple testing of students, the fifth and sixth grades were selected, however, the goal is to make the Indoor Rowers available to all of the students, staff and faculty as possible.

An orientation and demonstration of the Indoor Rowers were first made to the faculty to introduce the “Row Together” program and discuss the opportunities for incorporating the indoor rowers into different curriculums. Presentations were made to the fifth and sixth grade classes informing the students of the “Row Together” program and honor that J.S.Waters Elementary School had received. Students, faculty and staff have expressed enormous enthusiasm for the indoor rowers since they arrived.

The “Row Together”- J. S. Waters team made a presentation /demonstration to the members of the J.S. Waters PTA regarding the Indoor Rowers and the intended goals of the program. The physical activity testing is being conducted with the fifth and sixth grade classes and rowing is being integrated into classroom curriculum, such as Rowing across North Carolina and teaching the health benefits associated with rowing.

Phyllis Smith, Family and Consumer Science, Extension Agent stated, “It is our intent, with this program, to provide the students/faculty/staff of J.S. Waters Elementary with a new exciting and creative activity that focuses on the importance of physical activity and its role in combating obesity, primarily childhood.

 
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