Fit to Learn Gets Schools Moving: Join Us!

April 15, 2013

Would you like to be a part of this amazing community of educators, school nurses and principals from all across Chicago? Join us this summer!

The numbers still shock even the most seasoned educators and health professionals. Fifty-one percent of the children in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood are considered obese; the number jumps to 61 percent in the South Side neighborhood of Roseland.

When HSC’s Fit to Learn program presents these numbers at its sessions, eyes always widen. For Georgia Anne Moore, a third-grade teacher at Sumner Community Academy on Chicago’s West Side, the numbers hit home.

“I work in the Austin neighborhood, and those are my kids,” Moore says. “I know that’s directly related to their test scores and all those things, too…. we need to make changes.”

Fit to Learn, HSC’s fitness-focused professional development program, helps teachers and principals make those needed changes. Last week, HSC hosted the last Fit to Learn Booster of the year, an informal “meet and greet” that encouraged members to bring interested colleagues and gave everyone a springboard to talking about strategies that work.

Moore attended the session on the advice of Nichole Moos, a Hamilton Elementary School teacher who helped lead a highly effective wellness team at their school in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Staff there do yoga together, once held a month focusing on random acts of kindness and emotional health and created “Hustle-Up Hamilton,” a staff fun run involving climbing the stairs of the school, as a way for teachers to set a positive example for students.

“The purpose isn’t so that everyone gets really skinny,” Moos explained. “Fitness looks different for every single person, and we were asking people to set goals and try to stick with them.”

It’s been a great year for Fit to Learn overall, and many participants have reported positive changes. At Dawes Elementary School, students now have opportunities for yoga classes three days a week; and P.E. teacher Cecilia Ludvik leads a walking club. Staff have gotten involved through a “Biggest Loser” pool.

Lori Klein-Blazek, a P.E. teacher from Jungman Elementary School, was recently named the Illinois Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD). She gives Fit to Learn high praise for creating real momentum around physical activity.

“I talk about Fit to Learn to teachers all the time, and I do some of the activities in PE with the kids,” Klein-Blazek says. “It's good energy. The seminars are fun — especially for someone like me. I can’t sit still. I’m like, show me, let's get up, let's get moving.”

Teachers who participate in Fit to Learn have a ton of resources at their disposal, including activities, presentations and lessons available both in printed form and digitally.

Cherianne Barry, a second-grade teacher at Ariel Community Academy and a friend of Moore and Moos, was a first-time attendee at Fit to Learn last week.

She was already enthusiastic about the support and structure Fit to Learn offers. She says that, often, figuring out how to integrate wellness into the classroom can be a big challenge. “Sometimes, I feel like we’re kind of thrown in and figuring stuff out, so for somebody to give all these great resources to us is super helpful.”

The evening also featured fresh juice from Peeled and delicious appetizers from Pastoral.

Would you like to be a part of this amazing community of educators, school nurses and principals from all across Chicago?

Join us this summer!

For information about becoming part of Fit to Learn, visit FitToLearn.org or email HSC Training and Program Manager Kristi Cox or Campaign Manager Rosa Ramirez.