Special Report: Fighting Obesity - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Fighting Obesity

(WALB image) (WALB image)
(WALB image) (WALB image)
Coach Marley (WALB image) Coach Marley (WALB image)
Sarah Trevett (WALB image) Sarah Trevett (WALB image)
Dr. Stacy Evans (WALB image) Dr. Stacy Evans (WALB image)

Growing up, it's likely that recess was a regular part of your school day. But for close to 15 years, since 2002's No Child Left Behind Act, the amount of recess dwindled to near nothing, and in it's place, more academic time.

Now, the pendulum is swinging back, as the benefits of physical activity and it's impact on good grades, and good health, are becoming clear. 

Six hours of Field Day fun at Sherwood Acres Elementary in Albany, put together by a veteran PE Teacher.

Brenda Marley,  Dougherty County's lead Elementary Physical Education Teacher says it has changed in many positive ways.  "When I started teaching here 15 years ago we taught outside everyday."

Now, they have a nice gym, And, a track. But, the amount of recess children get in a day has dropped drastically... although THIS school has kept one recess in the daily schedule.

 "The state mandates 90 hours for health and physical education," Marley said.  "We have a PE schedule and each class will come to us two days a week for 50 minutes each."

But, that's not all the physical activity Sherwood students get. "So the students have recess after lunch for 20 minutes everyday."

And at Turner Elementary... these students get another 10 minutes AT LEAST of in classroom "Brain Breaks"

Short bursts of physical activity, even yoga.

Pediatrician Dr. Stacy Evans said, "The earlier a child becomes obese, and the longer they stay obese, the higher the likelihood they will be obese as an adult and have a lot of the problems associated with obesity in adulthood."

Evans says childhood obesity statistics in South Georgia mimic national statistics, and one of his biggest concerns is lack of physical activity for children at school.

Dr. Stacy Evans with Southwest Georgia Pediatrics in Albany says "There is a lot more that kids have to learn and do now and a lot of the activity is getting pushed to the side, I'm not saying that's a bad thing but it is from a health standpoint."

Sarah Trevett, a Physician's Assistant at Turner Elementary 's Health Center, says while Turner and Sherwood students get daily recess, the majority of elementary schools in Dougherty County do not. "We developed a District Wellness Committee."

Trevett, along with Coach Marley at Sherwood, serve on the DCSS District Wellness Committee together.  While federally mandated, the group has come up with a comprehensive wellness policy the DCSS School Board is reviewing now.  "In it we are including recess for every elementary student K-5 at least 20 minutes a day."

 "We know that healthy students are students that are better able to focus and do better on tests."

Dr. Stacy Evans was very pleased to learn about the daily recess recommendation and hopes it passes: 3:42 "Everybody needs to get up and stretch and run and take a break every once in awhile instead of getting information and learning hammered into them for six to eight hours straight at a time. It is a wonderful thing from both the weight standpoint and the learning standpoint, as well."

It's a tug of war over just how much recess a student can receive every day. The biggest winner could be our children.

The Dougherty County School board is scheduled to vote on the District Wellness Committee's recommendations in the near future, according to DCSS Spokesperson J.D. Sumner.  Sumner says it will likely be considered before the next school year starts.

If approved as recommended, every Kindergarten through Fifth grade student will get 20 minutes of recess every day, and can't lose that time for bad behavior or class make-up time.

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