By Kathy Daley
LIBERTY These days, BOCES physical education teacher Ashlea Prouty observes something unusual going on outdoors at BOCES in White Sulphur Springs instead of just sitting, fifth and sixth graders are now in almost continual motion.
Spurring the happy and healthy change are the new activity monitors the students wear on their wrists that record their minutes of sitting, standing, moderate moving, vigorous moving and highly vigorous moving.
“The kids love it,” said Prouty. “You hear them say ‘I’ve been moving for 41 minutes!’”
The activity monitors are just a small piece of a very large grant that’s come the way of Sullivan BOCES.
BOCES’ $1.3 million Carol M. White Physical Education (PEP) Grant through the federal government provides money to improve physical education programs and to encourage fitness and good nutrition for students and their families.
The funds must be used for curriculum renewal, the purchase of equipment and supplies, and staff and teacher training, said BOCES PEP Grant coordinator Sharon Branning.
“The focus is physical fitness, cardiovascular fitness and nutrition,” she emphasized.
In its second year at BOCES, the grant project has allowed for the creation of a new fitness/wellness room at the White Sulphur Springs BOCES campus. That education center handles youngsters in special education programs from kindergarten through sixth grade. A second program at White Sulphur called SPARC (Supplemental Program for at Risk Children) educates children not diagnosed as handicapped but who are struggling academically, socially or behaviorally in their home schools.
The new equipment for students includes an Elementary Stepper, Recumbent Bike, Rower, Moonwalker, Elliptical and a Junior Treadmill. A balance beam, parallel bars and a vaulting board are also now available for students.
Students at the Rubin Pollack Education Center the large BOCES complex on Ferndale-Loomis Road have also gained from PEP. The lucky kids have seen an old weight room transformed into a fitness/wellness center. Another large purchase is an indoor addition to BOCES’ Adventure Training Curriculum: a new “climbing wall” that combines traverse/horizontal climbing with top rope climbing for vertical ascents.
A special wellness station at Rubin Pollack is also part of the package, testing students’ weight, heart rate, bicep strength, flexibility, body fat and blood pressure and printing out health reports for the kids.
“In May and June (of 2011), boxes of new supplies were being delivered on almost a daily basis,” said Branning in an update letter to parents. “These included all kinds of balls, bowling equipment, flag football sets, floor hockey sets, jump ropes, parachutes, bats, batting tees, bases, hula hoops, paddles, rhythm sticks, beach balls, tennis racquets, stop watches, games, music CDs and much more.”
In all about 400 students 100 at White Sulphur and 300 at Rubin Pollack are benefiting.
And so are their families. Each month, a short newsletter arrives with tips on healthy eating and good nutritional practices. Plus, families are invited to outdoor activities for their children, such as a horseback riding day at Stonewall Farm in Jeffersonville and snow tubing at Holiday Mountain.
“This grant has enabled us to provide lifetime learning skills, for our students,” said teacher Prouty. “It’s helping us to open doors and opportunities to our students and their families.”
What: Carol White Physical Education Grant (PEP) for Sullivan County BOCES.
Purpose: to improve physical education programs and to encourage fitness and good nutrition for students and their families.
Amount: $1.3 million
Major purchases: Climbing wall, elementary stepper, recumbent bike, rower, moonwalker, elliptical, junior treadmill, balance beam, parallel bars, vaulting board, floor hockey sets, jump ropes, parachutes, bats, batting tees, bases, hula hoops, paddles, rhythm sticks, beach balls, tennis racquets, stop watches, games, music CDs.
Students Benefitted: 400