Kyrene Biggest Loser challenge

Kyrene School District employees learn little exercise tips from Denise Latimer (second from left) a P.E. teacher at Aprende Middle School that they can do at school or in their office. The employees are participants of the Biggest Loser Competition in the school district. Feb 29, 2012. Darryl Webb/AFN

Darryl Webb/AFN

Kyrene School District employees definitely take their health seriously.

In a multi-faceted and wide-ranging effort at locations spread across the district, now is a time when things are beginning to come together.

The biggest event is the WOW Biggest Loser program that all district schools, as well as the district office, the transportation staff, and the facilities staff, are participating in.

Each group has a team and those teams compete against each other over the course of two months to see who has the largest weight-loss percentage.

Last year — the first year the event took place — teams lost a combined 5,888 pounds and this year’s event, they are just over 3,000 combined pounds.

But to the employee organizing the event, it’s not just about losing weight, but rather getting and staying healthy.

“Last year we had a phenomenal response,” said Deb Spurgin, assistant director of benefits for Kyrene. “We had other positives, too. Groups would get together outside of work to do walking together. Or they would share healthy recipes. Anything you can do to positively encourage people to get healthy is a good thing.”

Currently, the team from Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary has a percent loss of 5.29 percent and are leading the way. Kyrene Middle School ranks second with 5.02 percent.

Weight loss is important and needs to be done in a healthy manner, Spurgin said. Another aspect of health that a local school is tackling is heart health and awareness.

Kyrene physical education teacher Priscilla Iosca put out a heart health display at Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary and does multiple events there to teach students, teachers and parents about the importance in keeping the heart healthy.

“We talk about the heart during class time and do activities that help parents get involved, too,” Iosca said. “It helps the kids realize they have to make healthy choices.”

Iosca goes above and beyond to help the kids who want to be helped outside the classroom. Each week she hosts a group of students for one hour for one day in an after-school fitness club. In the class, she shows them how to work out with a routine and, if they don’t have the equipment at home, how they can still get in an all-around workout.

It all falls under the WOW, Let’s Move in Kyrene (LMIK) effort the district undertook at the beginning of the year. Spurgin said their provider and network of providers, United Healthcare, also sponsors contests for Kyrene employees to do things like workout five times per week or enter into a charitable walking or running event.

They also provide free testing at certain points throughout the year for things like diabetes and cholesterol.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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