Many professionals start their day with a workout, and now first-graders have picked up the habit.
Cumberland teacher Deb Lincer was inspired to make exercise a part of her classroom environment after traveling to New Zealand, where she saw young kids begin the day with a 30-minute workout. Upon returning to Whitefish Bay, she found Adventure to Fitness, which leads kids through a workout while incorporating educational and cultural exercises.
Since starting the program in September, Lincer's classroom is among the top five Adventure to Fitness participants in the state out of the 419 teachers in 227 participating schools.
As a reward for her efforts, the organization named Lincer a National Champion
of Education and Fitness for the 2011-12 academic year. On May 7, the students have an opportunity to talk to Mr. Marc, the star of the program, on Skype.
“Ms. Lincer and Cumberland Elementary are among the pioneering educators focusing on ways to integrate children’s academic learning, health, and well-being," said Colleen Henckels, vice president of marketing for Adventure to Fitness.
The kids start their morning by running and moving along with "Mr. Marc" as he travels throughout the world on the overhead projector. In addition to the lessons on history, social studies and healthy living, the exercise zaps the energy out of an otherwise energetic group of kids and prepares them for the day's lesson.
"What I have found is it brings everybody together and gets the kids ready to learn in the morning," Lincer said. "This is not just about the fight against child obesity, but also an important piece of this is teaching kids about living healthy."
Since she introduced the idea, Lincer said 12 other Cumberland teachers have adopted the program and 15 others are showing interest. The growth of the program throughout the school has turned Lincer's first-grade students into experts.
"Now they are teaching fifth-graders," Lincer said. "It's pretty powerful as a six-year-old to know you are a role model for being healthy."