Students at Eagleview Elementary school in Thornton are getting an early gift this year with a common goal -- preventing a problem some young people face today.

“There’s this huge epidemic with childhood obesity,” PE teacher Kathy Hogan said. “I definitely talk to the kids about making good choices when they’re not with me.”

The school wants to make sure all its hard work about making healthy choices pays off, so several Adams 12 Five Star schools have integrated a program to make it easier for students to concentrate in the classroom.

“Sometimes they get a little antsy and they need to take a break,” third grade teacher Andrea Corbin said. “To give them breaks helps them become better learners so that they can do their best in school.”

More than 40 of the 50 schools in the district are participating in a program called Smart Source. The assessment program -- made available by the Colorado Education Initiative -- provides information like physical activity and nutrition to help schools better understand how they can work to make their students healthier.

The district's wellness coordinator, Jill Collins, uses this info to make sure students receive the proper physical activity and health education.

“We might see that physical activity is low and our best way to address that at a school is to implement before school activity classes,” Collins said.

“If students are not able to get the wiggles out or get their energy out, then they’re not able to learn,” Andrea Pulskamp said, senior manager of health and wellness at the
Colorado Education Initiative.

"Not only can schools understand how they might need to work to impact student physical health, but they also might work to impact student mental health as well,” Pulskamp said.

But some may say students are spending too much time focusing on physical activities and not enough time on other subjects.

“What we know about young minds is that they really have to be up and moving every 20 minutes,” Collins said.

The school says these movements can lead to better grades.

“Brain breaks and movement all tie back to test scores and higher test scores if we have active bodies,” Hogan said.

Active bodies that this school district hopes will set up these young minds for success.

“[It] helps them become better learners so that they can do their best in school to be successful all day long,” Corbin said.

The Colorado Education Initiative says about 25 percent of the school districts in the state participated in the program last year.

They are looking to increase district participation next year.

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