A healthy way for children to learn
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Visone said the program was designed for second-grade students because they are still young and might not have developed bad eating and exercise habits yet. And if they have, he said, it’s easier to break those than when they get older.
Nicole Schimpf, the director of special services in District 30, said second-grade was the best age to have this training. She said teachers do talk about health in the schools, but the extra lesson from the high schoolers really made a difference. “We’re very committed to creating a healthy learning environment for our students,” she said. “It definitely reinforced the wellness activities that we already have.”
The high school students received training through Nassau County, but then developed their own programs to bring to the elementary schools. “It’s beneficial for everyone,” Visone said. “As the concerns of health are escalating, it’s all the more necessary.”
Sharon Zovich, a teacher at North High, said 27 students from her school were trained, all juniors from her phys. ed. leadership class. Zovich said the program at the elementary schools gave her students a great experience to step into a leadership role.
Zovich said her high schoolers did an excellent job. “They’re phys. ed. leaders so they value physical fitness,” she said. “They set good examples. They’re good role models.”
One of Zovich’s students, Jeanette Freeman, said she enjoyed sharing her knowledge about health and wellness with the younger students. “At about 7 years old, they should be aware of what they are putting into their bodies and learn how to be fit,” she said, “because the habits that they develop now will be carried with them throughout their lives.”
Ryan Milano, a junior at Central, said he hopes the second-graders will learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Winston Jones, a sophomore, added that being healthy and fit is a way for people to feel good about themselves. And senior David Meltzer said he wishes there was a positive program like this when he was in elementary school. “It would have affected the lives of a lot of classmates,” he said.