MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Middle school students are discovering that keeping fit can be fun. Through a Carol White Physical Education Program grant, the old auxiliary gym has been transformed into a dedicated wellness room, full of age-appropriate exercise equipment. There are treadmills, stationary upright and recumbent bicycles, leg presses, bench presses, ellipticals and more. There are dance pads, medicine balls, jumps ropes, bosuballs for balance, plyo boxes, stretch bands and agility mats. One special piece of equipment is even adaptable for use by individuals in a wheelchair.
Under the direction of physical education teachers Kent Miller, Kyle Reynolds, Annette Neighbarger and Doug Savage, the students use the facility once or twice a week during their physical education classes. Each workout, designed to meet national standards, is individualized for each student, and is based on each student’s fitnessgram. The fitnessgram indicates, for instance, the need for more aerobic activity or flexibility training.
Miller said PEP grant funds are also used for professional development for physical education and health instructors, and there is a nutrition aspect as well that involves software for the food service department. The software examines the menus and analyzes the calorie count and nutritional value of food items.
Another aspect of the healthy eating piece is what is called nutrition nuggets. Miller said those nuggets, which include nutrition information specific to student age-range, and even recipes, will be distributed to students and their families on a monthly basis, to foster a family/school partnership with regard to healthy eating choices.
Miller said the ultimate goal is to expand the wellness room to include equipment and space for high school students as well as middle school students.
He said some middle school staff members take advantage of the wellness room before and after school, and hopes the option will soon be open to all Mount Vernon school staff.