In an effort to combat the rising obesity rates in Allegheny County, physical education instructors in the North Allegheny School District have taken steps to ensure students coming out their system are devoted to lifelong fitness.
Dave Schmidt, the district's Health and Physical Education Department chair, said that over time his department has shifted from a team sports-based curriculum to one that focuses on lifetime exercise activities.
Age determines the level of intensity the students have with their physical education classes. In elementary school, the students take part primarily in kinesthetic and free, high-energy activities. As their bodies develop, they begin weight training and running.
Schmidt said North Allegheny teachers have written numerous grants to make certain their students would have access to the necessary equipment for optimal exercise. From fall to spring, the students' fitness levels are identified and tracked, and Schmidt said he sees the excitement when students reach certain higher levels.
“It’s really about an approach and a mindset that, ‘Hey, we get to do this today,’ not, ‘We have to do this today,’ and making exercise fun through a sense of self-satisfaction…" Schmidt said. "We try to make it really entertaining and fun for the kids and when they see their improvement they start to buy in more, when they feel the results of all the hard work.”