Physical education teachers across the U.S. are actively working to fight a childhood obesity epidemic by showing students healthy lifestyle habits.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, roughly 12.7 million children aged 2-19 in the country are considered obese. The Center says this number is “too high” and presents a “serious problem.”
To help combat this issue, a number of physical education teachers are going the extra mile to ensure students are having fun while exercising. In Oklahoma, where childhood obesity has tripled since 1980, elementary school PE teacher Chris Corbin runs an after school exercise program that includes fun games and contests for students and their parents. One of the games puts a twist on bowling, with students trying to knock down each other’s pins.
Speaking with Oklahoma’s News on 6, Cobrin said his goal is to give students “the knowledge of what that means to be fit” and have them “go home and share that with their mom and dad and brother and sister.” To teach his students healthy eating habits, Cobrin convinced his school to switch its annual candy sale to a fruit sale.
In Arizona, a state with the 7th highest rate of childhood obesity for children aged 10-17, PE teacher Mindy Przeor is using her experience as a runner and triathlete to run an afterschool and summer running club for children and their parents. Przeor, who has run multiple marathons, told NPR that students “sitting in a classroom for eight hours with no activity is not going to produce the results people want.” Przeor sees her club as a way for students and parents to build healthy habits together.
Perhaps the most significant potential benefit of Przeor’s program is its cost effectiveness. Because running is such a cheap activity, running clubs can be an effective way to keep kids moving in communities across Arizona, where there have been budget cuts in physical education. Przeor is currently working with other elementary schools to organize running events.