Holley Elementary School in New York was looking for a way to engage their students to become active and healthy. After being awarded a federal Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant they turned to Exergame to help bring the excitement they were looking for to their physical education program. Exergaming is bringing technology, gamification, and fitness together for a new and fun way to stay active. They saw Exergame Fitness as a good partner to join in their efforts to combat childhood obesity. The school also has plans to bring in a nutritionist and replace vending machines with healthy snack options as part of a complete healthy living program.
Jim Krencik of The Daily News serving Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties of NY offers a full report of the grand opening for the Holley Fitness Center at the school:
HOLLEY — A new program to improve fitness activities and nutrition awareness in the Holley Elementary School community was quickly embraced by students.
The red ribbon sliced to mark Monday’s opening of a new fitness center had barely reached the floor before students, staff and parents launched into virtual reality bike races, treadmill climbs and rhythm dance competitions.
The center is the first fruits of a federal Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant that Superintendent of Schools Bob D’Angelo said will invest nearly $800,000 into healthy programming.
School officials see long-range goals for the grant, but the immediate reactions were overwhelming.
A group of students gave the assembled school officials, local dignitaries and parents a lesson in how to use iDance, a game where players step onto their mat’s four directional buttons in rythym with a scrolling projection.
Storm Boyce, a sixth-grade student, said he preferred the game to gym class. Boyce said he had sprained his ankle playing indoor soccer during school, but leaped right into the iDance game.
“It’s pretty fun, it tires your feet out,” Boyce said before bouncing onto a treadmill. “It’s a good game to exercise … I’d rather do this, you don’t get hurt.”
Phys Ed classes will start to use the fitness center after winter break, teacher Lisa Campbell said, with special units being planned. The space can accomodate 30 to 40 students with a full set of activities on rainy days and a venue for before- and after-school programs.
Campbell, the grant’s project director, said the equipment on hand is the key to the program, which builds on a 2003 PEP grant.
“The difference is the technology,” Campbell said. “We have the technology here that instead of going home and sitting around playing video games, they can come here an play games while exercising.”
The center will also host Tuesday and Wednesday family fitness activity nights that are open to the whole community starting this week.
Pat Donahue and Joanne Blank, members of a group that reguarly meets for quick walks through the school’s halls, got a sneak peak of the Espresso HD stationary bikes.
The bikes attach to televisions displaying a series of racing-games that are tied to the pedaler’s movements.
“It’s different, very smooth,” Donahue said after stepping off. “I’m more used to a treadmill but it was fun.”
Donahue, who biked 50 miles for her 50th birthday, said she’d look to incorporate the fitness center into her routine.
Across the room, fourth-grade student Tia Hoffarth was at work in a wall of treadmills that fit both kids and adults. She plans to put many miles of exercise into the equipment.
“I like that it can push you (to keep going),” Hoffarth said.
Holley’s program also includes the hiring of a nutritionist to work with classrooms and the cafeteria. Among the changes already in place are apples, oranges and water in vending machines that previously offered less nutritious fare.
“We know there’s a link between academic performance, good nutrition and being active,” D’Angelo said. “We’re combining physicial activity and eating right.”
We at Exergame applaud Holley Elementary School for looking for innovative ways to engage their students to become fit and healthy for life and look forward to hearing about their future success.