by ANMOL MADAAN Staff Writer
In an attempt to battle the obesity epidemic in our nation, the Active Schools Acceleration Project gave nine finalists in the annual Innovation Competition $25,000 on May 22, 2012. ASAP is an initiative started by ChildObesity180.org, an organization dedicated to reversing the trend in childhood obesity. “Obesity is a problem throughout our nation. We as a nation should be ashamed that we are the heaviest place in the world. We should work on this problem and stop being lazy. Schools should help kids and play more of a role in their physical education,” says freshman Max Oge. Certain schools, such as the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, try to involve students in physical activities; however, it is very difficult considering their budget is $0. “I’ve been in my position since 1995 – I’ve never had a budget,” says director of physical education and health literacy Jayne Greenberg. “It’s always up to me to find my own money.” Miami-Dade County Public Schools were one of the nine finalists that was given $25,000. The requirements to advance were simple: schools had to show a way that they were inspiring students to move throughout the day. It had to be creative, include many fitness levels, and be easy to duplicate. More than 30 judges evaluated the hundreds of applications. In addition to the nine finalists, two national winners will be given $100,000. Also, in Miami, the new technique proved to work. Students who enrolled voluntarily lost an average of eight pounds a semester. It was also found that children who are engaged in physical activity are better learners. Miami acknowledged technological advancements and has implemented these into classes, such as creating a new podcast system. In this system, students listen to lectures while walking outside. Also, a new product called Gamercise is growing in interest. It allows students to move and exercise while playing video games. “I would love if we were allowed to use technology while we are in gym. I know that there are some schools that give you the option to use the Wii or other similar products to move. This encourages students to move and could help reduce the amount of obese people in our nation,” said freshman J.T Allan. One third of the U.S. is overweight and one in six American children is obese. Astonished by these statistics, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools implemented the “Just Move” program. They use exercise flashcards that are linked to a grade’s curriculum. In this program, students participate in physical activities while learning. For example, in kindergarten, children practice counting to 20 while doing jumping jacks. Also, in fifth grade, they learn the difference between perpendicular and parallel lines while doing squats, or talk about camels while doing the camel yoga pose. More teachers used this method because it also helps enforce ideas learned in class. “We had a much greater buy-in [from teachers] because it fits with what they already have to do,” says Andrea Brekke, the Healthy Schools, Healthy Families program manager.