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Fit to Be Taught, Vol. 39

For Hungry Kids, Backpacks Lighten Load


Students who are disruptive, can't concentrate, or lack motivation may not need a firm hand; they might need a helping hand! From Nebraska to Texas to New York, administrators have found that some of the kids in their care can't function well at school not because they don't want to learn but because they are hungry. With the help of communities, the simple remedy is a backpack -- a school standby -- that is filled with food supplies to help kids get the fuel they need to flourish.

As principal of Wolcott Street School in LeRoy, New York, Jim Thompson has tackled student hunger head-on. At home during the summer of 2006, he read a Wall Street Journal article by Roger Thurow that described a program in Tyler, Texas, in which hungry students received food in backpacks at school and carried the supplies home to their families.

Thompson launched an effort that brought together the churches of LeRoy and senior citizen groups along with the elementary counselor, assistant principal, and the district courier. That diverse group shared a moral imperative -- to feed hungry youngsters.

On Wednesdays during the school year, the district courier takes empty backpacks from the elementary guidance office and brings them to a Baptist church that is across the street. Senior citizens pack the backpacks with food on Thursday morning, and the courier delivers them back to the guidance office. Students pick up their filled backpacks on Friday afternoon and return them empty on Monday. Food that is needed for future months is requested at local churches, and the items -- including, occasionally, personal-care items like toothbrushes -- are brought to the Baptist church each week.

Read the full article on Education World


Exercise for At-Risk Kids

Instead of being sent to time-out, some misbehaving students in the Wilson (New York) Central School District get sent to time-in."

Teachers can refer students to a time-in" lab, where they can work off some energy on a stationery bicycle attached to a Play Station and a video monitor. The faster students pedal, the faster their character in the game move.

An overall exercise program has been targeting at-risk students at the elementary and middle school level. Children come in before or after school for a 40-minute exercise session. The children all wear heart-rate monitors. Children warm up for ten minutes and then exercise vigorously for 20 minutes, with the goal of getting their heart rates up to between 135 to 175 heartbeats per minute. The children then cool down for ten minutes.

Teachers noted that behavior improved for many of these children, as did school performance. A number also lost weight.

Activities vary from day to day and they may also vary within the same session to insure that participants do not lose interest in the exercise program.

Read more about this program at: Kids Get Time In.

Click to learn more about Action for Healthy Kids.

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