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Texas Health Plano Sponsors Fitness Program at Six Elementary Schools
03/29/2010

PLANO, Texas — Fifth-graders at six Plano elementary schools have embarked on a new fitness program designed to help them establish good exercise and eating habits at an early age, thanks to a grant from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano.

Plano Independent School District Education Foundation recently received the second installment of a $55,000 grant from Texas Health Plano, covering the cost of the pilot project for 630 students this year and 1,770 students during the 2010-11 school year. Students enrolled in the pilot will be introduced to the program in the fifth grade and continue it the following year when in sixth grade.

The new fitness program comprises several components: physical exercise, curriculum, nutritional education, activity logs for recording progress, rewards and incentives, and technology and assessment tools developed by the renowned Cooper Institute. It also encourages parental involvement by posting each student’s individual progress on the MyPISD parent portal system.

“An important part of our mission at Texas Health Plano is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Jeffrey Canose, hospital president. “What better way to do this than to partner with our schools in helping teach healthy lifestyles at a young age, with our objective to encourage children to continue along this pathway through adulthood.”

Physical fitness data gathered by Plano ISD shows a steady decline in students’ fitness levels starting at about age 10. By the time students reach middle school, their activity levels during the school day change dramatically, and recess is no longer offered. In addition, some students at this age have limited access to extracurricular activities, making them more prone toward a sedentary lifestyle.

Students participating in the pilot are issued a three-function pedometer, which allows them to not only track their steps but also measure MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity) time and activity levels, and total activity time – before, during and after school.

Each student is assessed at the beginning and end of each semester using the Cooper Institute’s FITNESSGRAM®. This tool utilizes research-based criteria to evaluate students in three areas based on what is optimal for good health: aerobic capacity; body composition; and muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. Recommendations are made when improvement is needed.

Students also are provided nutritional and activity logs to record what they eat and how much they exercise. In addition, enhanced curriculum and teacher involvement emphasize the importance of making healthy nutrition choices, and becoming and staying fit.

Plano schools are working with local sports teams and businesses to offer students special rewards for completing the program, as well as incentive rewards throughout the process.

“This generous grant from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano has allowed us to extend a current classroom learning opportunity by engaging students on an everyday and all-day-long basis,” said Dr. Doug Otto, Plano ISD superintendent. “Each student literally becomes his or her own personal trainer, and is challenged to exercise beyond the school setting.”

Elementary schools involved in the pilot program include: Hickey, McCall, Wyatt, Andrews, Barksdale and Brinker. During the 2010-11 school year, sixth graders at Bowman, Rice and Renner Middle Schools also will be involved in the program, as fifth graders from the six elementary schools will feed into these middle schools.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano is 366-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, providing technologically advanced care to Plano and surrounding areas since 1991. The hospital’s services include orthopedics, cardiovascular services, oncology, pediatrics and women’s services. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Plano has more than 1,600 employees and 1,200 physicians on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL or TexasHealth.org/Plano.

About Plano ISD Education Foundation
The Plano ISD Education Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with the mission to help all students in Plano public schools achieve their full potential by providing financial support to educators and academic programs. This support is generated by private support for priority projects identified by Plano ISD not funded by tax dollars. The Foundation provides grants to educators, programs that support academic enrichment to Plano ISD students, emergency assistance for teachers and staff members in crisis, as well as programs aimed at recruiting and retaining quality teachers. To learn more about the Plano ISD Education Foundation, contact Executive Director Monica Shortino at 469-752-8091 or visit pisd.edu/foundation.

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