Thursday, June 13, 2013

Covington schools show 'Fitness Rocks' by lowering body mass, lifting the bars of nutrition, wellness and academic achievement

Sparks are flying in Covington Independent Schools. The schools' Fitness Rocks program, which combines fitness and wellness activities in an after-school program four or five days a week to create a healthier community for students, is the reported cause of fire.

The district's after-school student activities are based on the SPARK (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) curriculum for out-of-school-time, and the district reports great success since the program launched three years ago.

Since then, students' body mass has shrunk 4 percent, and there has been a 6 percent increase in the number of students who engage in at least an hour of daily physical activity and the number of students eating fruits two or more times a day, and vegetables three or more times a day, reports Julie Wohlleb of the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Students in Fitness Rocks also saw a greater increase in their math and science MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores than students not participating. “It’s been demonstrated how students who are active 60 minutes or more a day have increased academic success,” Haggard told Wohlleb.  

The program is also being used for professional development for physical education teachers, and "The SPARK curriculum has been really helpful in giving our fitness coaches and PE teachers ways to get all kids engaged no matter their skill level,” Haggard told Wohlleb.

The district started Fitness Rocks three years ago at each of its seven schools through a Carol M. White Physical Education grant from the U. S. Department of Education. The program encourages a range of activities to keep students active, from playing flag football to video games, and so far, 55 percent of elementary students and 19 percent of high school students across the district have participated in the program this year.

In addition to after-school activities, Fitness Rocks provides healthy snacks and sponsors family nights at every school that focus on fitness, wellness and nutrition, and program coordinators are witnessing changes in health behaviors across the district. “We’ve been really working hard, especially this year, at finding a sustainability model because it has been so impactful for the community and parents and students alike; they just love it,” Haggard said. (Read more)

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