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Move More, Do Better in School


Things got moving fast recently in Stoney Creek Elementary School teacher Heather Paparella’s second-grade class. Students were stretching, jumping and dancing.

Students were taking a “brain break,” led by YMCA instructor Caley Faulkner, to become refreshed and re-energized. Dancing to pop music, stretching with exercise bands, trying brain teasers and doing fast-paced aerobics had students moving and smiling. Faulkner said it’s a way to get students out of their seats, and teach them how to move throughout the day so they can do their best in school.

Faith Barrios works out her body and brain
Faith Barrios works out her body and brain

The YMCA’s Nutrition in Action Program is in 60 schools in Kent, Newaygo, Muskegon and Ottawa county schools. Instructors visit kindergarten-to-fifth grade classrooms three times as week for 15-minute sessions to promote a healthy classroom environment. Stoney Creek was participating in the program’s “Get Active” series.

“Research shows that students concentrate better when they participate in movement and physical activity throughout the school day,” Faulkner said. “I demonstrate low-cost forms of exercises that are tied to curriculum that the teachers can use during the school day and that the students can bring home to promote healthy, physically active lifestyles.”

Paparella said students get just one recess a day and gym once or twice a week, so getting them out of their seats is important. She also does an interactive technology program called GoNoodle.

“It gets them moving and gets the brain going,” she said.

Students agreed. “I feel really good, and my body feels good because I stretch a lot,” said second-grader Mykaveon Johnson. “I work on my body and my brain.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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