Mornings started early for some as they made the trek to area schools, toting breakfast and Fit to Learn kits for Chicago Public School teachers. Each kit contained master copies of materials teachers could add into their lesson plans to incorporate movement and physical activity with math, shapes, yoga, colors, fruits and nutrition. Books, pencils and suggestions for non-sugary alternatives to birthday treats were also distributed.
Teachers who took part in HSC’s Fit to Learn professional development training took the messages and tips for teaching familiar lessons in healthy new ways to their peers, with the help of PPEs who led the groups in physical activities and felt like kindred spirit, since they know how intimidating could be to face your peers. They have done it!
After presentations were completed, PPEs headed to various elementary schools located in low-income areas to assist in the Chicago Running Mates program organized by Chicago Run. The non-competitive afterschool program allows students to practice together toward citywide races in Chicago, while keeping them active and engaged three to four times a week.
While at Jordan Elementary School, PPEs ran with seventh and eighth grade students around the outside of the school's open field, encouraging them around the outside fence of the baseball field and soccer goal for their six laps and participating in cool downs with their new running mates.
Despite the winded posture of the Jordan students, there were still smiles and laughter as they stretched in the damp field sparsely covered by grass.
"I think any type of physical activity program you have for kids is good for school," said John Mahon, Running Mates coach and the seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Jordan. "If you have happy kids and you have healthy kids, you're going to have kids who like their school and they're going to learn better."
Although Mahon recently took over the role as coach in February, he said his own health is benefitting from the practices and the benefits for the students are obvious.
"It really improves academics by improving school climate," Mahon said.
Well, Healthy Schools Campaign got it right: healthy kids are Fit to Learn.
Highlights of the day: