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Fairland West to have fitness Friday

ROME TOWNSHIP — The idea is to encourage kids to get physically fit and stay that way.

Fairland West Elementary will have a “Fairland Fitness Fun Friday” this Friday as a kickoff to the school’s third annual participation in the HEART program, in partnership with the St. Mary’s Regional Heart Institute. HEART is an acronym for Helping Educators Attack Cardiovascular Risk Factors Together.

“Many of our students participate in sports such as soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics and cheerleading. Every child needs to exercise regularly. Our goal is to provide a safe and caring environment to help our students develop to the best of their mental and physical ability. Our school is fortunate to have the support of the parents in these endeavors,” Fairland West Principal Teresa Johnson said.

Nathan Speed, Physical Education and Health instructor at the school has planned physical fitness events for the third, fourth and fifth grade students.

Teachers and parent volunteers will lead fitness sessions such as aerobic exercise, jump rope, hula hoop, calisthenics, obstacle course, tug-o-war and a “walk around the track” at the school’s campus. Children will earn points and prizes at different steps in the program. All students will be given specially designed T-shirts to wear throughout the year.

Shari Wiley, RN, MSN and program director, brought a team of nurses to the school three years ago to begin screening children for the three major risk factors for heart disease —obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

With parents’ permission, the screenings revealed the need for more exercise and healthier habits.

Speed and Wiley worked closely with school staff members, the school nurse and parents to alert them to heart disease risk factors in children. Speed organized a walking club for students that will be continued this year.

Some students were selected to participate in the HEART Champions after-school program.

The 12-week, medically supervised nutrition and exercise program offers consultation and monitoring by a dietitian, nutrition education sessions and group exercise.