Two weeks ago, C.C. Wells Elementary School kicked off their involvement in Fuel Up to Play 60, a nationwide program promoting a healthy lifestyle in young students, by having the school’s 700 students and 80 faculty and staff gather in the school’s gymnasium. There, students learned the benefits of good nutrition.
Sponsoring the program is the James Farrior Foundation, founded by local NFL player James Farrior and his brother, Matt – also a former professional football player from Chesterfield County; but only Matt could make the event, as James is currently in mid-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Matt did, however, show the room a video message his brother had recorded to tell Wells students about the importance of nutrition.
“In reality, young people need to focus on health issues so they can be prepared for school each day,” said Wells principal Dr. Virginia Patterson. “Research shows that a healthy child helps improve academic achievement.”
According to Wells physical education teacher Carolyn Buletza, the partnership with Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program founded by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL), is supplemented by a $3,000 grant awarded to the school during the summer. Six other elementary schools in Chesterfield County – Matoaca, Spring Run, Hopkins, A.M. Davis, Crestwood, and Jacobs Road – were able to participate in the program this year with awarded grant money. This partnership came a year after James Farrior first piloted the program at Matoaca Elementary.
Wells will use half of the grant to purchase healthy foods to educate the children on proper nutrition, and the other half for exercise equipment and awards for the students.
The school held its first food tasting Tuesday, Oct. 25, where students sampled Edamame, a soybean that has been used for over two thousand years as a major source of protein and usually consumed as a snack or a vegetable dish. Wells will be holding three other tastings in the next few months – one in November, January, and February – all of which will be prepared by the cafeteria.
To incorporate an exercise element into the program, Buletza said students will be running for the first 10 minutes of recess each day – with each day’s distance being recorded towards the completion of a marathon: 26.2 miles. Classes will also be learning about a new muscle each week, with activities being conducted that go along with the muscle; also, other activities will be coordinated to build arm strength, balance and good sportsmanship.
Leading a majority of the event Monday was Kristin Biddle, a school program account manager from the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. That afternoon she worked with Farrior to both educate the students about nutrition and conduct educational activities with them.
“The purpose in all of this is to start life-long habits for the kids,” she said. “The earlier we teach this to students, the more it helps create a healthy lifestyle for them.”