The whirlwind of back to school is fading for most area families, and everyone is settling back into a daily routine. For many students across the Hamilton Southeastern school district, that new routine will now include an innovative wellness program. Fitnessgram is a comprehensive fitness program that will be installed in every elementary, intermediate and junior high school in the district over the next three years and will include over 7,500 student participants.
District coordinator Karen Boyd explains, “Fitnessgram is a state-of-the-art, assessment focused approach to teaching healthy exercise and nutrition habits critical to reversing childhood obesity trends.” Unlike previous models, Fitnessgram is individualized and criterion based. The focus is on good health, not simple athleticism or a number on the scale.
The program could not have launched at a better time. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports over 15% of Indiana’s youth are considered overweight and another 14% are obese. Beyond those numbers, less than half of our state’s children are meeting recommended physical activity levels and less than 20% are meeting the fruits and vegetables requirements.
Of course, as with any innovative approach, the challenge is the expense. The last several years of reduced state allocations have left little remaining in education budgets. Enter the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation (HSSF). The foundation, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is dedicated to enhancing the educational experience for all students in the Hamilton Southeastern district. During the last year alone, the Foundation has invested over $55,000 in classroom grants and $75,000 in individual scholarships.
Lisa Wissman, HSSF vice president of grants and scholarships notes, “The partnership with the Geist Half Marathon has really made this project possible. Fitnessgram will be the most comprehensive, long-term project the Foundation has tackled. We are excited about the potential to reach so many students with such a meaningful program that will lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits.”
For more information about both Fitnessgram and how to become involved with the Hamilton Southeastern Schools Foundation, visit their website at www.hsefoundation.org.