Holladay • It is a well-known fact that physical education can help students be more physically fit, but a new report strives to prove that PE in schools also can help students become better academically with more activity in their lives.
That was the message that Champions For America’s Future sent at Crestview Elementary in Holladay on March 19. They also presented Granite School District with a national PE award for willingness to keep physical education in the schools at an athlete-laden assembly.
Decorated Paralympic skier Chris Waddell, two-time Olympian in aerial freestyle skier Emily Cook, two-time Olympic champion Derek Parra and WUSA soccer player Jacqui Little Rimando were on hand to talk to the students about the importance of staying active.
The visiting athletes also took the students to the large grassy area behind the school to lead them on a "Jolly Jogger" activity to start the fitness right away.
"It feels like I can run forever and feel refreshed," said second-grade Crestview student Nic Pingree after running with the athletes.
"One of the beauties of children is that their minds are open," Waddell said before the assembly. "If we can impress upon them that fitness is important, then it will affect them for the rest of their lives."
Cook said she enjoys being able to do what she loves in aerial skiing and that she has made many friends while being and athlete.
"The best part about sports for these kids is that they get to have fun," she said.
Granite School District received the award for staying committed to physical education in the schools. Jenny Grosh, physical-education coordinator at the elementary level, was on hand during the assembly to accept the award. Grosh is a believer that physical activity also can help in the classroom.
"The easiest way to explain it is that physical activity makes them more alert and ready to learn when they get back to the classroom," she said. "Once you get their body moving, then it releases endorphins and makes students much happier and less likely to go through feelings of depression."
Jeff Kirsch, vice president of Champions For America’s Future, accompanied the athletes to the assembly to help spread the message to the students.
"We are very concerned with childhood obesity in our country," Kirsch said. "With better nutrition and more activity, obesity rates would lower dramatically."
Crestview principal Verneita Hunt is all for the message Champions For America’s Future brought to her school.
"I truly believe that kids needs to move and that it is impossible to separate the mind from the body," Hunt said. "It does make a big difference to be active and ready to go for school."
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