With obesity problems and fast-food chains on every street corner, physical education specialists at Daniels Run Elementary took the initiative to make sure students practice proper eating and exercising habits.
“There’s an obesity epidemic,” said Denise Moser, coordinator of a county-wide after-school fitness program called “Functional Fitness 4 Kids.”
Moser was at Daniels Run Elementary’s first Fitness and Wellness Expo, Tuesday, May 2 to present youth fitness tips and encourage children to get active. She and Pam Clingenpeel had posters set up to promote their after-school fitness activities, which will be available at Daniels Run in the fall.
“This is different than sports,” said Clingenpeel, a Function Fitness 4 Kids spokesperson. “It gives all kids a chance to be active, not just the kids who are good at sports.”
The school’s physical education specialists encouraged children to come with their parents to showcase the physical strength and ability they have learned while in school. Various county officials were there to hand out pamphlets and fliers advertising nutrition and exercise information.
“We’re really focusing on the new pyramid guide,” said Paul LaMay, Fairfax County Food Service Specialist. “The old pyramid focuses on foods, but not so much on exercise.”
LaMay had poster boards set up to show children which foods and exercises are healthiest. He also handed out copies of a new pyramid diagram, showing exercises in the place of each food group. The pyramid, LaMay said, is designed as a guide for a healthier and more active lifestyle. The bottom of the pyramid represents the activities children should do more frequently, like walking the dog or taking the stairs. The tip of the guide represents activities they should do less often, such as watching television and playing video games.
THE GYMNASIUM was set up with activities in every corner, with the middle barricaded off for other activities. Kendra Jones-Blair and Martha Ullrich, both physical education specialists at Daniels Run, helped set up the event.
“We wanted to do a family-oriented fitness night,” said Ullrich. “Kids can bring their parents and kind of show off what they’ve learned in P.E. class.”
Some of the parents who did come were excited to see that the school was focusing on something like health and fitness.
“I think it’s great they’re doing something for their physical health,” said Lisa Doyle, whose daughter was playing on the rope climb.
Averill Wallace, Fairfax County Public Health Nurse, was there to show the children and their parents how to stay clean and prevent sickness. She had hand sanitizers and literature to promote hand-washing and other preventative measures.
Most of the children were running around the gym, taking part in the activities that interested them. On hand were two rope climbs, agility games, flexibility tests, cardiovascular fitness exercises and pull-up bars. Third-grader Mitchell Sharp said he liked the exposition because he does gymnastics and is good at physical activities. Kayli Ottomanelli, first grade, was playing on the rock-climbing wall until the rope climb was free. Her mother, Cathy, said Kayli stays active by taking ballet and gymnastics classes. She said she was glad the school had arranged the activities, since her daughters were so excited about going.
“I try to support the school’s activities and I support her [Kayli’s] interests,” said Cathy Ottomanelli.