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MES earns Get Fit, Get Active award
hula hoop 1
A hula hoop competition was one of several physical activities the students enjoyed during the celebration. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

Winning a statewide award made Marlow Elementary School students get up and dance — literally.

Marlow Elementary was one of Georgia’s 20 winning schools in the Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge, an effort by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Radio Disney AM 590 to motivate children and families to be physically fit.

As a reward, MES students enjoyed a dance party hosted by Radio Disney in the school gym.

“They’re having a blast,” said physical education teacher Christi Wood. “They do love it.”

To complete the challenge successfully, students had to be active for at least 40 of the 55 days of Get Active, Get Fit, from Oct. 1-Nov. 24, 2012.

Marlow Elementary earned the award for a third straight year. Principal Betty Jean Ferguson credited the school’s wellness committee with implementing health initiatives for students and staff.

“I am very proud of our students for earning this reward and for their efforts to develop healthy habits,” she said. “Hopefully our students will become healthy, active adults.”

The students were getting exercise even as they celebrated the award. Along with dancing to music during the party, they participated in activities such as a hula hoop contest and a relay race.

In the relay, cones were set up several feet apart. The students ran to each cone and did an exercise, such as 10 jumping jacks or 10 dribbles of a basketball.

As part of Marlow’s commitment to fitness, Wood emphasizes to students that physical activity shouldn’t end when the school day does. Rather than them devoting all their free time to watching television, playing video games or texting, Wood wants students to get off the couch and play outside — preferably involving other members of the family.

“It’s not just at school — you have to be active at home,” she said.

By developing an active lifestyle at a young age, Wood said, children will avoid health problems and self-esteem issues that may come with being overweight.

“If they don’t start now,” Wood said, “the chances of them starting in high school or out of school are slim. So it’s important now to see that they can be active and have fun and just learn to live a healthy, active lifestyle from an early age.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents age 2-19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has nearly tripled.

In addition to their regular exercise in PE class, Marlow students can join the school’s fitness club. The club is open to grades 1-5 and meets before school, with students participating in a variety of activities suited to their ages.

“It’s a workout,” Wood said.