School Heath coordinator Andrea Lockerby and another county staff member, Karen Saffles-Slater, were presenters this past week at the National PE4Life Convention in Kansas City.
Lockerby said officials of the national program expressed an interest in making the Bradley County school system a model PE4Life program and locating a training site here.
“We would do the training,” Lockerby said Thursday at the announcement of a federal physical education grant to the county school system.
The county’s Coordinated School Health director said nothing has been confirmed on the training site possibility, but added that it is a huge compliment to Bradley County’s PE4Life program.
Lockerby and her staff, along with Bradley County director of schools Johnny McDaniel, announced that the school system has received the federal Carol M. White Physical Education Grant. The grant has a potential $853,911 in funding over three years, with the first year’s award of $576,579 already committed.
The grant for a second year would be $144,716, with a tentative $132,616 for a third year.
State Sen. Mike Bell and state Reps. Kevin Brooks and Eric Watson attended Thursday’s announcement, since it was the state Legislature that established (and funded) the Coordinated School Health program statewide.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann was unable to attend Thursday’s announcement, but did relay congratulations.
“I am proud of Bradley County Schools for being the only system in Tennessee to receive the award this year,” Fleischmann said. “They are now able to provide the resources needed to help Bradley County kids enjoy a healthy and active school day through a strong PE program. This is a much-needed part of a child’s education.”
Saffles-Slater will be the coordinator of the grant over the next three years.
The United States Department of Education awards these grants to local education agencies and community-based organizations to initiate, expand or improve physical education programs for students in grades K-12. This will help the local programs meet state standards in physical education.
The Bradley County Schools system has recently focused attention on its PE4Life program and its expanded physical fitness opportunity. All but one campus (Charleston) now has a walking or fitness trail.
Lockerby said the school system’s “Beyond the Walls” project seeks to improve student health by implementing a consistent, sequential PE curriculum, maximize opportunities for physical activity throughout the school, and implementing a schoolwide integrated nutrition curriculum and institutionalizing policies and measures to track and improve health and fitness.
“This grant will provide curriculum, professional development, academic classroom materials, recess equipment, physical education equipment and technology,” said the county’s School Health supervisor.
Lockerby added that tentative plans are to add equipment, such as spin bicycles, mountain bicycles, climbing walls, sport walls and low-rope courses. “We will also be building on our existing emphasis of utilizing technology in the classroom by way of pedometers and heart-rate monitors,” she said.
Lockerby said these upgrades will provide instant student feedback and individualized assessment.
“This will build on our PE4Life philosophy of taking physical education beyond the walls of the gymnasium and into our classrooms, and our community,” Lockerby continued. “To create healthier students and communities, we are encouraging fitness (in our physical education programs) as well as sports.”
The School Health director emphasized that 3 percent of adults over the age of 24 stay in shape playing team sports. “The underlying philosophy is that if physical education class can be used to instruct kids how to monitor and maintain their own health and fitness, then the lessons they learn will serve them for life,” she said.
“We are doing this by teaching lifetime sports and activities in our PE classes,” Lockerby added. “We are partnering with the Bradley County Health Department, the Cleveland YMCA and the Bradley County Schools Child Nutrition Department.”
Lockerby expressed her appreciation to the governor and General Assembly for their vision in funding Coordinated School Health in Tennessee. “Without their support, student opportunities for increased physical activity and equipment would not have been possible.”
“In the end, however, our students are the winners and nothing is more important than a healthy future for them,” Lockerby said in conclusion.