By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
Before the halftime show during the men?s basketball game at Iowa Wesleyan University on Saturday, Feb. 3, Hy-Vee KidsFit trainer Mackenzie Reed gathered Mt. Pleasant fifth and sixth grade students together in the hallway for a pep talk before they took the floor to lead the stands in a squat challenge.
Students at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School and Van Allen Elementary School have been working toward their squat goal for two weeks, improving their squat form and upping the number of reps they can do in the classroom while learning about fitness and nutrition.
Hy-Vee KidsFit travels to schools in the eight states Hy-Vee is in to promote nutrition and wellness. They target fifth and sixth-graders because those students are at a perfect age to begin choosing a healthy lifestyle for themselves, Reed said.
This is the second year KidsFit has stepped into Mt. Pleasant schools. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Manager Danielle Scott said that although the first year was trial and error, both years the program has been received extremely well.
On Friday, students traveled to IW?s gym to do the final squat challenge test. Carrie Hester?s sixth-graders at Mt. Pleasant Middle School took first place as a class. Andi Scott won in the individual category, completing 500 squats during the challenge.
The winning class was given $250, which Lange accepted during the halftime show and said will be used to buy individual white boards for the classroom. The students also got basketballs signed by IW athletes and free admission into the game as a part of IW Athletic Appreciation Day.
?When you get your [basket]ball, it feels like you really deserve it after the squat challenge,? said Peyton Walker, fifth-grader at Lincoln.
Ethan Brush, a sixth-grader in Hester?s class, said that he thinks completing the squat challenge was good practice for the future, especially during the summer when he used to spend all day in front of the TV. Although when he doesn?t have school to worry about, Brush sometimes plays video games ?until dark,? he is determined to remember the importance of staying active and how he completed this goal.
?I can do more than 50 squats until my legs start to hurt,? Brush said. ?At first, I could only do a couple.?
Brush also wants to start eating healthier, he said through a mouth-fill of Starbursts. He wasn?t at all nervous about leading people in squats during the halftime show.
Mt. Pleasant Middle School Principal Nathan Lange said that partnering with Hy-Vee and IW is important for the community. ?They were pumped and had fun,? Lange said. ?Getting exercise doesn?t have to be what you normally associate with it. KidsFit showed students it can be fun.?
Briar Bender, fifth-grader at Lincoln, said that the squat challenge is a good way to get stronger for sports. Bender plays basketball, baseball, football and plans to go out for wrestling once he gets to seventh grade.
Another practice he picked up from KidsFit is to drink less soda. ?I?m not drinking pop anymore because of it,? Bender said. ?I used to drink a bunch and I?m not anymore.?
Stepping off the court after the halftime show, Lou Schim, fifth-grader at Lincoln said that he enjoyed encouraging other people.
Missy Sitar, mother of Lincoln fifth-grader JC Sitar, said that although their home is already fairly active, she thinks KidsFit encourages students and families to keep that up. As she walked out of the IW gym after the halftime show, Sitar said she came to the game with her son because of his participation.
?I just want to thank the community and Iowa Wesleyan for providing the opportunity,? Sitar said.
In addition to traveling to the schools, KidsFit also offers a free website that provides education through online video tutorials, fitness workbooks and Hy-Vee dietitian blogs and fitness challenges. Participants can earn virtual trophies and badges to help monitor their progress at www.hy-veekidsfit.com.