OPDYKE – Over 200 students at Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School flocked to the gymnasium Friday afternoon for a special demonstration of new PE equipment.
The oppressive heat did nothing to stifle the students' enthusiasm, as they were all eager to participate in the games and activities that were part of the demonstration.
Coordinating the event were members of the We Choose Health program, which is part of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The OBR school received grant funding from We Choose Health to acquire the new equipment.
The equipment includes special kits made up of balls, hula hoops, frisbees, bean bags, and other materials, along with instructions on how to use these items to play various games.
“It's so the PE teachers have a little bit more flexibility in what they are able to do in (class),” said Pat Scarbrough, the We Choose Health coordinator for the South Central Illinois Health Coalition. “It's not just some of the normal stuff they've been doing. It's a little more active.”
The goal of each game is to keep participants moving as much as possible. These activities differ from traditional sports where a portion of the players sit out for some of the game, Scarbrough said.
We Choose Health promotes a grade school curriculum that calls for all students to be “moderately to highly physical” for more than 50 percent of their time in PE class, Scarbrough said. The overall intent of the curriculum is to fight childhood obesity.
One of the games students played Friday incorporated three different physical activities. First, students ran through hula hoops placed on the ground, then they did jumping jacks, and finally they threw a basketball at the hoop.
OBR Superintendent Debra Blakey said school officials are very grateful to receive the new equipment.
“It's important to get any kind of money that's available for any academic area,” Blakey said. “And we're extremely appreciative of PE equipment especially, because sometimes that's the academic area that gets left out.”
In May, OBR was awarded two $300 mini-grants from We Choose Health.
One grant was used for the lower grades to purchase PE equipment, including balls, jump rope supplies, cones, and more. The other grant was used for the upper grades to buy a weekly health periodical for student learning.
Recently, though, officials at We Choose Health informed OBR there was extra grant funding available for the school to acquire more PE equipment. That equipment, valued at about $2,500, was delivered to the school Friday.
The grant funding comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is administered through the Illinois Department of Public Health.