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Morning Sun
  • Elementary school students use video games for fitness, health

  • Video games, and the long hours children spend stationary in front of TVs playing them, have long been blamed as a cause of childhood obesity. At least one Pittsburg area school, though, is attempting to use video games as a way to fight the fat.

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  • Video games, and the long hours children spend stationary in front of TVs playing them, have long been blamed as a cause of childhood obesity. At least one Pittsburg area school, though, is attempting to use video games as a way to fight the fat.
    Northeast Elementary School recently received a grant to pay for three Nintendo Wii video game systems for students to use during indoor recess periods. The game systems are famous for the physical involvement they require from their players in games such as bowling, tennis, disc golf, baseball, basketball and dance, among others. The grant was from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation Healthy Habits for Life, and is offered to help schools combat childhood obesity.
    According to its website, the foundation recently distributed 158 grants totaling $150,077.25 to assist school nurses, physical education teachers, other teachers and administrators in developing programs to help school-aged children learn healthy habits. In the past six years, it has donated more than $450,000 to Kansas schools. The goal is to provide financial resources to schools that want to create programs to help their students reduce cardiovascular risk, increase physical activity and learn healthy eating habits. Westside Elementary School in Pittsburg also received the grant.
    Norma Hiatt, nurse and counselor at NES, said the idea to use Wii systems in school came up at a meeting of the health curriculum committee. The idea for the grant came from a representative for BCBS, she said.
    “I knew the lady who was offering them, and she said we’d have a pretty good chance of getting one since we hadn’t applied before,” Hiatt said.
    So far, only first grade students have used the Wii systems. Eventually, Hiatt said, kindergarten through fifth grade students will be able to use them as teachers are able to integrate them into their schedules.
    “It all will be geared toward sports and movement,” Hiatt said. “Physical fitness was the purpose of it.”
    On Monday, students in Jill Ashbacher’s first grade classroom got the chance to play Dance Kids!, a game that encourages them to mimic the dance moves being made by characters dancing on screen to well-known hit songs.
    “The kids love it,” Ashbacher said. “They get their exercise in the afternoon and it stimulates their seratonin levels and helps them finish out the day. They get tired of sitting.”
    Seven-year-old Connor Scott agreed.
    “It gives me some energy,” he said.
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