Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Starside students win grant

June 22, 2006

Although cartoons are sometimes blamed as one of the causes childhood obesity, this year they're helping Starside Elementary School students stay more active.

The Cartoon Network and National Parent Teacher Association will be awarding a $5,000 grant to Starside Elementary PTA for its campaign to get more recess time.

Starside PTA President Kay Speed will attend the national PTA conference in Arizona this weekend to receive the check, which will be used to teach students healthier lifestyles.

"It was a letter-writing campaign," Speed said. "Whichever school wrote the most letters won the $5,000."

Each state had one school that received the grant.

At Starside, students wrote letters in their classes to lawmakers across the state and nation. They wrote about their favorite recess activity and drew pictures. The letters were sent to Cartoon Network officials, who distributed them to the lawmakers.

Speed said a special thanks was owed to Starside first-grade teacher Elyzabeth Navarre, whose students wrote many letters about recess.

"Recess is very important," Speed said. "I've had teachers tell me that in the afternoon if they don't get to go out because of bad weather, the kids are very distracted."

Vicky Needham, legislative chair for the De Soto Area Council PTA, said recess was an important part of school activities.

"Because of all the pressure the schools are under in order to make sure that every school makes adequate yearly progress in their testing of kids, they're cutting out recess time," she said. "That's not really right. These kids need recess after they've worked a few hours in the classroom. They need to blow off steam."

Starside has two recess times for all-day students. They also have a running club for students before the start of the school day.

This year, the PTA also sponsored a "Body Walk" with a giant-sized replica of human organs to teach students about their health. Each spring during the school's field day, the students enjoy outdoor games and healthy snacks.

Speed said the grant money would be used for field day and to begin a walk-a-thon fund-raiser on the same day.

"It's a huge amount for our PTA," she said. "Our fund-raisers usually get between $6,000 to $8,000."

The PTA uses the money raised to pay for field trips for the students, a free yearbook for every student and various activities throughout the year.

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