COLUMBIA (WIS) - As childhood obesity statistics continue to rise, so does the desire to combat the problem. September marks National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and one Columbia elementary school will be moving and shaking long after the month is over.
While National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month was not their original inspiration to move, teachers at Annie Burnside Elementary in the Richland One school district say the month just reinforces just how important it is to move.
This year the school began a new program called 'Burnside Gets Fit.' Its mission is twofold: moving the body and engaging the mind.
"Brain research shows just simply crossing [your arm over] your body activates the brain," said Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Giovannone Andrade. Before teaching at Burnside Elementary, Andrade said she was at another school in another state where she saw morning movement make an impact. "I saw kids getting energized," she added. "They'd come to school tired and turned off... when they came to school [and exercised] they would engage and get energized and be ready for learning. So I was hoping we'd see the same results here."
Now when the morning bell rings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Burnside, the morning announcements give a rundown of the day's events. Once the rundown is complete, it's time to get down. "Let's transition and get ready to exercise," says Burnside Principal Felicia Miles.
Twice a week, one class prepares moves and all of the other classes prepare to move. "It's to first of all be aware of exercise and just drive that thought of exercise is healthy for your mind and body," said Joanna Brower, a first grade teacher at Burnside.
Just a few weeks into the movement, students already have a handle on the mission. "Because exercise is good for your body," said first grader Charles Jeffcoat.
Teachers say even if it's just a few minutes in the beginning of the day, it's the place to start. "I feel like any type of movement helps the body," said Giovannone Andrade. "Kids are getting a pinch of exercise, they're activating their brain and they're getting ready for their day."
Teachers say every class at Burnside Elementary will have a chance to lead 'Burnside Gets Fit' at some point during the school year.