North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


August 5, 2011

Bryan focuses on healthy habits

Bryan Elementary School students will be able to wear their healthy habits as a badge of honor during the upcoming school year.

Thanks to a “Fuel Up to Play” grant from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA) and America’s Dairy Farmers, the school now has $1,016 to spend on programs for health education. The school can reapply throughout the school year for more grant money.

At the core of the school’s plans are T-shirts that students wear on the last Friday of each month, called wellness T-shirts. The students can earn merit badges for doing healthy things and for participating in school events, and can sew the badges onto their wellness shirts.

“My kids play Upwards sports, and they get badges for things like good sportsmanship. And the Boy Scouts have been doing it for years. Sometimes you have to think of new ways to motivate kids,” said Rebecca Recke, a physical education teacher at Bryan Elementary who helped write the grant proposal. “I mean, high fives are great, but let’s jazz it up a little, right?”

Recke said the school tries to frequently implement health-education programs, including Recke’s “Math and Muscle” class that combines mathematics and physical education.

Students can earn badges for participating in events like “Breakfast with the Coaches,” which is exactly what it sounds like: Students enjoy a healthy breakfast with coaches from local schools (and perhaps beyond in the future).

“The coaches just come talk to them, chill out with them,” said Recke.

The students can also earn badges by running at the school before the schoolday begins on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by participating in a school-wide 5K race with their families. Recke said the school is even trying to get a live milking cow to come to the school.

“We’re trying to stress healthy living this year,” said Bryan Elementary School principal Debra Campbell.

The grant supplies funds for programs as well as promotional materials, such as fliers the students can take home.

“If we hadn’t gotten this grant, we would have had to go in a completely different direction,” said Recke.

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