By Sean Bowes

Getting healthy and staying fit are trends that are sweeping Wesley Chapel’s elementary schools. In January, Wesley Chapel Elementary (WCE) hosted its first-ever “Fitness Week” and New River Elementary is continuing its participation in “Fuel Up to Play 60,” a national in-school health and wellness program that encourages at least an hour of exercise every day.

On January 16, New River Elementary received $3,944 from the Dairy Council of Florida to support its 2011-12 involvement in “Fuel Up to Play 60.” In addition to exercising daily, the program encourages children to eat nutrient-rich, low-fat foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

To earn money for the school, students must complete challenges that could range from taking a pledge to stay healthy to submitting recipes for low-fat foods. Students can keep track of their progress using the program’s website (see wnd of story), which posts the progress of each student and also put up new challenges for schools.

“The Play 60 grant has greatly enhanced our physical education and nutrition program here at New River Elementary,” said Holly Mitchell, physical education teacher and coach at New River.

“Play 60” is a program started by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is currently in the third year and according to Play 60 spokeswoman Allison Ducey, the program has had an impact on children in Florida’s schools.

“New River Elementary has started healthy eating projects, the children are keeping activity logs and they started a ‘recess before lunch’ program,” says Ducey. “They know exactly how they’re going to spend the money, down to the dollar.”

All Florida public schools still have the opportunity to apply for up to $4,000 for the next Fuel Up to Play 60 funding period. Funding for the 2012-13 school year will be available until June 1, 2012.

For more information, visit the national website for Fuel Up to Play 60 at or the Dairy Council of Florida’s website at

WCE Students Are ‘Wild’ About Wellness Week

The students, staff, and parents at Wesley Chapel Elementary (WCE) are making new efforts to eat healthier and exercise more often.

On January 16, WCE kicked off its first ever “Wildcat Wellness Week,” a five-day-long event filled with healthy activities, including yoga, “fresh fruit Friday” and “Jump Rope for Heart.” Some students also gathered sponsors who donated money to the American Heart Association (AHA) for their participation in the activities.

“We tried to plan fun and healthy activities that could be enjoyed by everyone, including our parents,” said Chris Gorman, physical education specialist and wellness committee coordinator. “One of the activities was our ‘Commercial Calisthenics’ which motivated students and their family members to get moving during the commercial breaks if they were watching television. They could choose from doing sit-ups, jogging in place, hopping on one foot, push-ups, jumping jacks, or any other inside movement activity.”

The events raised $600 from sponsors to donate to the AHA.

“I loved the Yo-Yo-Yoga Day,” says kindergarten teacher Christina Mendez. “It is very relaxing and helps the students focus on their positions.”

The staff at WCE enjoyed more “grown up” special wellness events such as Wellness Sudoku and Wellness Bingo, which had the teachers and staff marking off a cover-all bingo sheet that included making healthy choices like eating fruit with breakfast or joined a friend or family member for a 30-minute workout. According to the USDA, obesity is the single greatest threat to public health in this century. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 children in the U.S. are considered to be overweight or obese. Being overweight can lead to or intensify chronic medical conditions for school-age children including joint problems, asthma, high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

“I believe our Wellness Week will have a positive impact on our community and our students, parents, and staff will continue making healthy changes in their lives,” says Coach Gorman.

Students also enjoyed a fresh fruit selection on Wednesday and Friday (photo), thanks to the donations of some local supermarkets, school district suppliers, and fruit stands. They also enjoyed dressing in their sports uniforms on Thursday representing such fitness activities as soccer, baseball, cheerleading, football, and dance.

The culminating activity was the “Jump Rope for Heart” student challenge. Students completed nine different stations that included hurdles, long jump, sack race and vertical jump.

WCE also is home to The Student & Staff Wildcat Wellness Center. These fitness centers were created to increase the physical activity levels of both the students and the staff. The student fitness lab provides the classroom teachers with a portable utilizing 27 different stations which students can use during physical education class. The staff fitness lab is filled with all types of cardio and weight training equipment similar to a health club. Teachers and staff are able to work out before school, during lunch and afterschool to increase their fitness levels.

The Wesley Chapel Elementary family would like to thank the following business sponsors: Publix Super Markets, Fresh Point, Sweetbay Supermarkets, Beef O’ Brady’s, Great Clips, MOSI, The YMCA, Applebee’s, Shannon’s Produce, LA Fitness, Pinnacle Chiropractic, Happy Kids Pediatric Dentistry and Dickey’s BBQ Pit.

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment