By: Lauren Fabrizi
A report released this week by Lincoln Public Schools and Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln shows LPS obesity rates in elementary and middle school students have decreased by 1.4 percent over the past three years.
Michelle Welch, the district's wellness facilitator, said it all has to do with an increase in fitness activity and healthier options in the cafeteria, along with a more physical approach to learning in the classroom.
"It's continuing to have a link between fitness and academic, reading math and science and helping kids when they're more fit regardless of what the scale says," Welch said.
Darrell Dinneen, a physical education teacher at Sheridan Elementary, fills his class with a number of ways to stay fit, from running and jump roping to doing chin-ups.
He said the best approach to a successful gym class is to structure it in a way the students don't realize they're exercising.
"They're just having fun, their heart rates are beating," Dinneen said. "They're getting hot and sweaty."
"It gives us lots of exercise!" kindergartner Annika Srivastav said.
Dinneen said the district also encourages students to engage in physical activity outside of school in events like the annual mayor's run and pumpkin run. The district has also teamed up with community organizations like the Malone Center and YMCA to promote healthy living.
The phys. ed. teacher said it all comes down to being a role model.
"I get excited in the morning to come to school and hopefully make a difference in the kids' lives," Dinneen said.
LPS officials said right now, the obesity rate is nearly 16 percent. They hope it goes down to 15 percent by 2015.