Several Kentucky schools start school year with new programs to get their students moving, to improve both learning and health

As the new school year begins, several Kentucky schools are working to increase student movement, with one elementary school in Louisville investing in a programs to increase student movement in the classroom to improve learning and four in Western Kentucky increasing movement outside the classroom to improve health.

Photo by Pete Ruiz, WDRB

Students in seven Wilder Elementary classrooms in Louisville came back to classrooms fitted with equipment to promote movement while learning, like standing desks and devices that allow children to move their feet while working, Antoinette Konz and Rachel Collier report for WDRB.

The “Let’s Move Wilder!” project, led by the school’s Parent Teacher Association, is part of a privately funded effort paid for by parents, local businesses, organizations and grants, WDRB reports.

“Research shows with movement, kids are less likely to become distracted. Plus, it is easier to retain information and switch between tasks,” Konz and Collier write.

Sarah Rosenbalm, who has seen the equipment work for her own child, told WDRB, “It just helps him pay attention a little more, instead of playing with pencils, when he could kind of wiggle his feet, he stopped playing with pencils and actually started writing.”

Students take turns with the limited equipment and are being asked what they like and what they don’t, toward a long-term goal of equipping the school with as much equipment as it needs.

“Engaged students are successful students, and we are always seeking new and innovative ways to connect our kids with learning,” Wilder Elementary Principal Bill Perkins told WDRB.

He said a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found students spend more than four hours a day sitting at school and an additional seven hours sitting outside class time prompted the program.

Movement to improve health

Baptist Health Madisonville
provided $66,000 in grants to four Kentucky schools last spring to launch “Project Fit America” this fall, a fitness program aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

The State of Obesity report found that almost 20 percent of Kentucky’s 10- to 17-year olds are obese and 15.5 percent of its 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families are obese, and that these rates have remained consistent for 10- to 17-year olds since 2004 and for 2- to 4-year-olds since 2003.

Recipients of the grants include Whitesville Elementary in Daviess County, Freedom Elementary and Pembroke Elementary in Christian County and Sebree Elementary in Webster County. Each will receive indoor and outdoor fitness equipment, teacher training and curriculum materials.

Janet Farrell, Whitesville Elementary
PE teacher and Kristy Quinn, Baptist
Health marketing director
(Baptist Health Madisonville photo)

Whitesville Elementary, which received $16,350 in grant money, unveiled its new equipment Aug. 19, Keith Lawrence reports for the Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro. (This story is behind a paywall.)

Kristy Quinn, the hospital’s marketing director, told Lawrence that the equipment “will provide a whole new approach to health and wellness for these students. The curriculum is exciting and interactive.”

This brings to 10 the total number of schools to receive Project Fit America grants from Baptist Health Madisonville.

“We know childhood obesity can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes,” Robert Ramey, Baptist Health Madisonville president, said in the news release. “We also know children learn better when they are healthy. Baptist Health and Project Fit America are perfect partners for helping our schools improve our students’ health and thereby improve their academic achievement.”

Baptist Health has partnered with Project Fit America since 2007, helping to implement 33 total projects implemented across the state, according to the Project Fit America website.

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