LANSING | A group of Thornton Fractional South High School students is meeting regularly Monday and Wednesday mornings to get in some exercise and learn healthy eating habits, thanks to a grant.
The program is part of Fuel Up to Play 60, a national initiative sponsored by the National Football League and locally by the Midwest Dairy Council to provide resources, programs and funding to elementary, middle and high schools throughout the U.S. to encourage students to eat healthy and get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day.
T.F. South received two grants from the program this year: a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant in the amount of $734 and a Fuel Up to Play 60 Healthy Lifestyle grant of $3,000.
Both grants were one-time awards for activities to take place between January and June 2013, at which time both grants will expire. The purpose of both grants is to promote nutrition and physical activity among T.F. South students. Through each grant, the school will implement Fuel Up to Play 60 “plays” or strategies designed to get students to adopt healthier lifestyles.
There are three components to the grant: a healthy eating play that includes a breakfast taste test for students; promotional giveaways for students to promote the program, including water bottles and tote bags; a physical activity play that includes the implementation of dance-style video games like “Just Dance” to get students excited about exercise.
Teacher Tim Cocco’s Wake Up Program was partially funded by the Fuel Up to Play 60 grant. The Wake Up program also was funded by a grant Cocco received from Donors Choose. These grants pay only for the healthy foods that Cocco provides to his students; Cocco volunteers his time for the Wake Up program.
There are three components to the healthy lifestyle grant: a supermarket field trip to get students to learn how to choose healthy foods and accurately read nutrition labels; a healthy eating play that includes two taste test events – one for students and one for parents; a physical activity play that included the purchase of physical education equipment that makes physical education more accessible for special education students.
The taste test for parents took place in March before the drama department Friends and Family Night event. The taste test for students will take place in coming weeks. The supermarket field trip took place Wednesday at Ultra Foods in Lansing.
Three T.F. South teachers – Cocco, Sandy Shaughnessy and Bob Padjen – worked with the district’s grant writer to help write the grant and were instrumental in the implementation of all grant activities.