Shaler students reap big rewards from Active Schools program
Eighth-grader Morgan Burke noticed something different this year: She no longer was falling asleep in her classes.
She credits the 30 minutes a day of physical activity required of her and her classmates at Shaler Area Middle School.
"The exercise keeps me more focused and alert during class," said Burke, 14.
Last week, state Secretary of Health Everette James and Steelers legend Franco Harris visited Burke's school to applaud officials and students for taking part in the Department of Health's Active Schools grant program.
Students did push-ups, practiced stretching techniques and tossed balls back and forth in the auditorium in celebration of the event and the school's $15,000 grant for their yearlong commitment to exercise.
The school received $5,000 from the state and $10,000 from UPMC Health, a regional organization that agreed to support the Active Schools program.
"Teachers have noticed a change in the students since the start of the program: an improvement in scores, an increase in energy," Principal Eloise Groegler said. "I'm even seeing (fewer) kids in the principal's office lately."
The Active Schools grants went to the 40 schools showing the strongest commitment to fitness, including five middle schools in Allegheny County, one in Beaver County, one in Butler County and one in Fayette County.
"It's good for all the kids -- how they sleep, how they feel about themselves, how they do in class," James said. "Chronic diseases caused by obesity are more prominent than ever today, and 70 percent of our health care costs come from chronic diseases.
"We'll never reduce the cost of our health care if we can't reduce chronic disease at the root."
Shaler Area Middle School offers a Zumba class, a fully equipped cardio room, several new machines for the weight room and a yoga club.
As part of the program, all students had to take gym as a class and were tested in activities such as sit-ups, push-ups and the mile run at the beginning and end of the year, comparing their times in the mile run and the number of sit-ups and push-ups they were able to complete.
"The misunderstanding of the importance of physical activity and nutrition is beginning to slow down progress in the community and the country," said Michael Culyba, vice president of medical affairs for UPMC Health Plan. "If we don't turn the corner with programs like this, we're going to fall behind."
James hopes eventually to see federal guidelines on students' fitness, but does not want to wait for that to happen.
"We can no longer wait," he said. "The cost of the lack of physical activity is starting to hurt our country's progress."
Until then, he hopes the Active Schools program will spread to other states as he implements it for 40 new Pennsylvania schools for the 2010-11 school year.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police charge Steelers’ Bell, Blount with marijuana possession
- Starkey: Stupid Steelers
- DNA tests expected to confirm remains found in Colorado as those of former Butler County resident
- New Kensington slaying victims identified
- Youngwood shelter removes 44 dogs, 9 cats from shuttered Fayette SPCA
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Kiss’ makeup has changed, but their impact remains strong
- Pitt’s Chryst names Voytik starting quarterback
- Former Butler County court employee files discrimination suit
- Pitt recruit Rowan leaving Lincoln Park
- State Superior Court upholds conviction, sentence of former Justice Melvin