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School officials optimistic about health

Obesity curriculum to benefit all students in district

Youths aren’t just growing up, they’re growing out.

For Moffat County School District Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan, the headlines brought it home.

“It seemed like every time I opened the paper, I saw an article that obesity was the No. 1 health problem among school-aged children,” he said.

The deluge of information lent credence to a plan that four Craig Middle School teachers wanted to pursue. They submitted a curriculum meant to combine and focus several existing areas of study in an effort to reduce obesity among children.

The curriculum combines lessons in nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyles and was one of the best ideas Sheridan said he’s seen in a long time.

Unfortunately, it will take funding to get it off the ground — funding the school district already appropriated for the 2005-06 school year.

So the district applied for a U.S. Department of Education grant, which was denied, one reason being that no local match was provided.

It’ll take more than that to kill a good idea, Sheridan said, so the school district is turning to the community for support. Team members will approach local businesses to see whether they’d be willing to purchase or partner with another business to purchase a piece of industrial-grade cardiovascular equipment — stair stepper, treadmill or elliptical machine.

“Equipment use makes up about 20 percent of the program but equals 75 to 80 percent of the cost,” Sheridan said.

The program will start at the fifth-grade level, eventually expanding through the high school level. Students’ blood pressures and body fat percents will be tracked throughout their school career through the program.

“It’s a pretty holistic program,” Sheridan said. “Outside of our core curriculum, this may be the most important thing we’ll teach.

“This is a very worthwhile project. It isn’t for 30 kids on a team. It isn’t for 20 kids in a club. Every student who goes through the Moffat County system will get this.”

The aerobic portion of the Moffat County School District’s physical education program is fairly limited, because of equipment and weather.

Sheridan said this program will focus on the existing curriculum

School district officials will reapply for the grant in the spring.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.