2016-12-08 / Local News

Glen Lake students place an emphasis on healthy living

And have fun making a human sundae
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

ELEMENTARY PHYSICAL education teacher Ryan Schut ran with his students at a ‘move-a-thon’ held at the school earlier this year to encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise. ELEMENTARY PHYSICAL education teacher Ryan Schut ran with his students at a ‘move-a-thon’ held at the school earlier this year to encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise. A program aimed at improving the longterm health of students is in the works at Glen Lake Community Schools.

The school is one of nearly 150 statewide chosen to participate in the “Building Healthy Communities” program offered through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).

Elementary physical education teacher Ryan Schut is spearheading the effort.

“Superintendent Sander Scott came on and wanted to take a deeper look of our overall health programs,” said Schut, who applied for a grant from BCBSM in August and September. “It’s not a big money grant as much as it gives us tools and resources to evaluate our physical education/ health programs in general.”

The school “health team,” comprised of Schut, Scott, elementary Principal Kim Wright, counselor Amy Johnson-Velis, school nurse Barb Springsteen and general education teacher Gavin Richmond, meets monthly. The group is working on a self-assessment.

“We’re looking at what we’re already doing and what we could be doing to make things better,” Schut said.

For example, Glen Lake’s food service program provides a diet that falls within federal nutritional guidelines and also participates in farm-to-school food programs.

However, Schut said the group has discussed a need to encourage healthy snacks.

“Everyone brings food in for birthdays. But given the number of people with food allergies and overall health concerns, there may be greater standards needed for that,” Schut said.

According to BCBSM, since the inception of the program in 2009, students participating experience 40 percent more fruit and vegetable consumption than the national average.

Increased physical activity is also a focus of the program. Earlier this year, Glen Lake Elementary students participated in a “move-a-thon” in which they accepted pledges for the number of laps run around the school track. Moneys raised benefited the Glen Lake Parent- Teacher Organization.

“If we get kids moving, they’ll enjoy it more,” Schut said. “It was a blast. We pumped up the music and had a kickoff assembly.”

Students were encouraged to set running goals with different prizes offered to motivate them. Schut challenged students offering to allow them to do something to him if they met their goal.

“Some suggested shaving my beard and knowing I don’t like snakes, wanted me to put by hand in a container of them,” Schut said.

Winning students opted to make their teacher a “human sundae.”

“I sat in kiddie pool and they covered me in ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and maraschino cherries,” Schut said.

In addition to the move-a-thon, with support from BCBSM and other sponsors, students now have equipment they can use to be active during recess.

“It’s all equipment they can grab and go, like jump ropes, kickballs, frisbees and football,” Schut said.

“The overall idea is to build a healthy community by encouraging health choices and healthy routine in the daily routine of Glen Lake students.”

According to BCBSM, students who participate in the program:

 Increase their “steps per day” by 700.

 Participate in 35 additional minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

 Have 19 fewer minutes of screen and video time per day.

They also report having more energy and increased attention span in class.

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