Since 2003, all Clay County elementary schools have been participating in the "President's Challenge" to get physically fit. Before 2003, some did the president's testing and some chose different methods.
Teresa Akers, Physical Education teacher, has been teaching the president's fitness programs for 20 years. She said since 2003, all the schools have been participating in the program, along with the governor's program.
Akers teaches at Meridian Elementary, 410 N. Meridian St., Brazil, and East Side Elementary, 936 E. National, Brazil. Both schools are working at the same pace with the fitness program.
Akers said the students have been doing curl-ups, shuttle runs, endurance walking and running, pull-ups, right angle push-ups and other exercises on the fitness list. The students are almost finished. They must complete the spring activities when it is warmer to go outside.
Akers said the governor's program and the president's are similar and consist of the same types of exercise. The students are excited, she said, and they have been showing improvement and results. While doing indoor jogging, before class to warm-up, the students started with 2 minutes and have increased to 5 minutes. The goal is 7 minutes.
"The kids are responding," she said. "We have a good completion rate."
The children work for 50-55 minutes a week on the program. Akers keeps track of their results on the computer and has been doing so since 2003. She said the results are turned in nationally and those who finish get rewarded.
Children that complete the governor's program will receive a certificate. She said children who finish the president's program will receive a certificate and a patch, and added that the awards are at no cost to the student.
The schools also reward the students.
Akers said Sally Maurer, Physical Education teacher for Forrest Park and Jackson Elementary, started awarding her students with a "Breakfast of Champions." The students who finish receive a healthy breakfast at the school. The cooks prepare a special breakfast that honors the fitness program.
Akers thought that was a wonderful idea and decided to incorporate it into her schools. She said the students like the idea of a free breakfast and are motivated to finish. She has seen results in the students and thinks the president's fitness program is a great idea. The program helps control childhood obesity and health issues related to it. She said childhood obesity was a problem, but has seen an increase in students' interested in getting healthy.