To better equip students with a healthier lifestyle during and after school, Mary Dean, physical education instructor at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School, and three of her colleagues presented their research on “Wellness Weeks: A Total School Approach for Promoting Physical Education” at last year’s Arizona Health and Physical Education state convention.

The research was conducted by Dean, Dr. Charles Corbin, Dr. Pamela Kulinna and Jennifer Reeves, which expressed the need for more physical activity for young minds and outlined individual responsibility for health.

Some of the individual responsibility the research went on to express was having physical educators advocating physical activity throughout the school day, having classroom teachers promote five to 10 minutes of morning breaks where students conduct a physical activity and discuss nutritional concepts, and cafeteria staff serving nutritious meals.

The research was published in the scholastic publication of Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD).

Corbin, a retired physical education instructor at Arizona State and an Ahwatukee resident, said one reason they began researching about Wellness Weeks is to express the importance of energy balance through weight maintenance, and integrate the nutritional concept within physical activity.

“That’s what we presented at the convention. An idea for Wellness Weeks and it’s typically called a Comprehensive Activity Approach. Quality physical education is at the heart of it, but it includes before- and after-school activities and it takes activity in the classroom. We know that if we get kids activity they learn better.”

Dean also expressed the importance of engaging students with different physical activity after school, and creating community events where each individual can participate in some form of exercise.

“Wellness Weeks are just one of many avenues that we are all taking to bring physical activity and more health and fitness into kids in schools. Primarily it’s just to put a greater emphasis for the kids, with collaborative efforts with the teachers, administrators and the cafeteria staff, on increasing more nutrition and more healthy habits with kids,” Dean said. “There’s a big push nationally.”

She explained that children at a young age can become stagnant when sitting in classrooms for long periods of time, and teachers at the school try to issue “Brain Breaks” to their students.

Brain Breaks allow students to participate with an in-class exercise that is both physical and educational.

Kindergarten teacher Katie Compton uses Brain Breaks during some of her morning lessons, where her students watch informational videos and move in place.

The children seem to enjoy participating in the Brain Breaks, having a moment to get their blood flowing, but they also know how to bring their energy down when their teacher instructs them to calm down.

“There are so many exciting things that the Kyrene School District is doing, in particular with our PE programs,” Dean said. “Kyrene schools are trying to do everything they can to increase fitness... So the kids are better equipped to learn.”

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