Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

August 25, 2013

Teachers inspiring students to get 'Fit for Life'

Fitness project helps pair of Boulevard teachers win contest.

(Continued)

The $10,000 prize would allow them to develop a resource room complete with “Dance Dance Revolution” equipment and Wii Fit games to give kids a way to be active even when poor weather keeps them inside for recess.

“This creative approach takes technology, which is a draw and a culprit of stationary behavior, and turns it into the solution,” ING U.S. said in a statement.

And if they win the grand prize, Darnell and Ligocki will use the $25,000 to put a half-mile track outside the school, complete with 16 different fitness stations, they said.

But even if they don’t win the big money, the pair plans to put in a quarter-mile grass track so they can start a walking club for students and their families.

Walking or running is something people can do for the rest of their lives, Ligocki said. It takes no money, she said.

Ligocki has been an educator for 30 years. A decade ago, she didn’t have to start teaching kids about exercise and healthy eating until middle or high school.

All little kids went outside and played every day, she said. That was a given then, but it isn’t anymore.

“Now we have to target them in elementary school,” she said. “We have elementary school students who are overweight.”

She and Darnell want to reverse that trend.

And kids will willingly follow if you lead them to healthier habits, they said. They feel obligated to do just that.

Boulevard Elementary School Principal Dave Buckalew said healthier kids make better students.

“Children live a very sedentary lifestyle today,” he said. “But movement and exercise give them energy. That helps them focus in school.”

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com.

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