PALM DESERT – Every Friday, students at Ronald Reagan Elementary shake up their usual routine by exercising to start off the day. This is called Fitness Friday. For 30 minutes, students jump rope, run, or do aerobics.
“They get their energy out, and then, when they come back to class, they are more calm,” teacher Stephanie Mendoza explains.
Each week the students do a different activity exposing them to all different types of exercises and teaching them that fitness can be fun.
“We are trying to fight the obesity epidemic,” Ronald Reagan Elementary principal Kim McLaughlin explained.
With education budget cuts, administering the program isn’t easy. Many schools eliminated physical educationand other activities. But Ronald Reagan is using grant money from the city of Indian Wells to run this program. For many students, this program is the only exercise they get.
“There are so many families that can’t afford to put their child into extra-curricular activities,” parent Tracy Martin says.
“Kids need to be active these days. They are just sitting on the couch with the Wii and video games at home,” Mendoza says.
Educators hopeFitness Fridays inspire lifelong fitness. And from the school’s perspective, it’s working.
“[The program] makes you addicted to it,” says fifth grader Anna Ballesteros.
As the students run, jump,and stretch, they get closer to a healthy body, education, and attitude.