Marisa OlsonContact Email:
If you visited campus this summer, you may have thought our students were getting younger. But the elementary-aged kids running through the quad and racing in the ARC weren’t here for a college education – they were here to learn the ins-and-outs of nutrition and physical activity.
Hailing from the Jubilee School, a local private elementary school located only a stones throw away from the University, the children were part of a five-week program led by Karin Richards, director of the Exercise Science and Wellness Management Program. Richards, along with Megan Ferguson HS’10, spent the summer teaching the young students about overall wellness - from food groups, healthy snacks, and portion control, to hand washing and fruit and veggie bingo.
“The children were introduced to new food, such as apple crisps instead of potato chips and dried berries instead of sweets,” said Richards, who also leads the Health Sciences Program. “Hydration was a huge learning lesson, especially during the hot summer months and by the end of the program, the children were more aware of what they were eating and were able to identify all of the food groups.”
As for all the action out in the quad – the program wasn’t all work and no play. To better understand the importance of active play, the children cheered each other onto victory during relay races, soccer shoots, basketball, crunches, and working with push, balance, and reflex balls.
“While the children were impressively knowledgeable about nutrition, we found that physical activity was almost non-existent for many of them,” Richards explained. “We learned that physical activity is often overlooked in our society, especially in our children, and without this vital part of the wellness partnership, our children will continue to perpetuate the obesity epidemic. We helped them understand that more activity means a higher quality of life.”
While the students of the Jubilee School spent summer break learning healthy life-lessons, their teachers were learning lessons for inside the classroom. In late August, Lois Peck, director of the Science Teacher Certification Program, conducted a free development workshop that gave the teachers the opportunity to enhance their classroom content and pedagogical knowledge.
“The goal of the workshop was to enhance the elementary teachers’ science content background by using an inquiry-based development model,” said Peck. “I was so pleased with the interactions and engagement levels of the teachers – they asked such good questions.”
Rooted in University City since its founding, University of the Sciences has a long-standing tradition of being an active partner in the area community. The University recently initiated a multi-faceted educational program with the local school, and as part of ongoing outreach, Peck plans to host another teacher development workshop this academic year.