Twenty schools won the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge, with Sand Hill Elementary School and Whitesburg Elementary School receiving the award locally.
The challenge, co-sponsored by Radio Disney, was designed to motivate kids and families to achieve fitness together by engaging in fun activities. In order to successfully complete the challenge, students had to be active for at least 40 of the 55 days during the challenge, which ran from Oct. 1 through Nov. 24 last year.
The 20 schools with the highest percentage of participation in the program have won a live dance party at their school hosted by Radio Disney AM 590.
Both of the county schools also won the challenge last year.
Whitesburg Elementary Principal Jared Griffis said the honor is completely attributable to physical education teacher Ed Barrett and the commitment he has to the competition.
“Ed does an excellent job teaching kids how to have an active lifestyle,” Griffis said. “Along with showing them how important physical activity is, he also tries to hit home the importance of eating well and having a well-rounded, fit life.”
The contest has been designed to combat a growing problem in the nation — childhood obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years old are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has nearly tripled.
“We use it as an effort to encourage kids to be involved and active so they can maintain a healthy adult life, as well as a healthy childhood,” Griffis said.
As for Sand Hill Elementary, Principal Carla Meigs said the school had a special challenge in achieving the award: The school doesn’t currently have a gymnasium.
The school is undergoing massive construction renovations and replacements, including a new gym.
“Ms. (Ericka) Terrell has been teaching PE in the front hallway,” Meigs said. “So she’s had to rely on other teachers because of the limitations she was faced with.”
Meigs said she holds Terrell and the teachers who helped out “in high esteem.”
“It’s a tribute to those teachers and Ms. Terrell who keeps up with the fitness logs,” the principal said. “It’s proven to be a good way to get more kids interested in being active every day.”
Barrett said the two-month program involves students receiving calendars and having to track how much activity they include in their daily lives.
Students who remain active for at least 20 minutes outside for 40 out of the 55 days during the challenge are counted toward the school’s percentage.
At Whitesburg, Barrett said he was excited to see that 99 percent of students met that criterion.
“The response has been truly great,” Barrett said. “It’s a great program to teach them how to incorporate activities in their daily lives.”
In 2012, the event’s third year in Georgia, more than 48,000 students at 81 elementary schools participated. Nearly 384,000 students nationwide signed up to participate in this year’s Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, upstate New York, Virginia and Wisconsin.
“The true purpose of Get Active, Get Fit is to get kids up off of the couch, and outside playing and being active,” said Morgan Kendrick, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. “We are pleased with the large number of children who participated and hope that programs like this can show kids how easy it can be to make a healthy, active lifestyle part of their daily routine.”