Miles Lane Students Take Part in WinterKids
BUCKSPORT- Record low temperatures and a storm during the initial holiday week of the WinterKids Winter Olympics at Miles Lane Elementary in Bucksport presented a challenge for students and staff to achieve their goals, but the can-do atmosphere at the school is keeping the school in one of the top spots in this statewide competition.
WinterKids, a statewide initiative to encourage kids and their families to get active outdoors throughout the winter months, is inspiring students and faculty to have some winter fun. Miles Lane Principal Christina Ellis said, “Our kids are so excited and having so much fun with it. Even the staff are getting involved; one of our teachers tried skating for the first time too.”
Research has shown that physical activity, while fun, and healthy nutrition, while delicious, also has positive impacts on students’ academic performance, and Ellis said that the health benefits of the WinterKids program are starting to be felt.
“We’ve been getting an overwhelmingly positive response from parents, who report that their children are sleeping better at night,” said Ellis. She also noted that teachers are noticing fewer behavioral challenges in the classroom. “They are just so excited. It’s a lot of work but worth it.”
The inclement weather has prompted a switch in the planned order of the activities at the school, an adjustment that the WinterKids program allows to keep the statewide competition fair.
In the first week, initially scheduled around physical activity opportunities, students and staff engaged in a variety of healthy nutrition activities, including competitive trivia games around healthy nutrition, new foods for students to try, and games to encourage students to drink more water. Logan Hawkes, a student Mrs. Havel’s second grade class at Miles Lane Elementary, said enthusiastically, “I wish everything could be oranges.” while the class was trying the fruit as part of a SNAP-Ed nutrition class led by Emily Herwerden of Healthy Acadia.
The second week was devoted to the physical activity challenge, in which the students needed to log at least 300 minutes of activity throughout by the end of week. Among other initiatives, two teachers at the school teamed up to help make this happen. Kalina Young, the music teacher, and Dan Ormsby, the physical education teacher, combined their periods to give the kids extra time to get outside and get active that week.
Ellis said that motivation at the school was so high that some students who were unavailable on certain days for the competition were participating in make-up activities.
This week, students bring their newfound knowledge home; the students become the teachers during family engagement week and will be logging hours spent as a family on healthy physical activity and nutrition initiatives. In addition, Miles Lane will be partnering with the Bucksport YMCA to bring a family skate night to the skating rink.
Ellis said that the school gains points not just from the percentage of students participating in the WinterKids activities, but also from partnering with community organizations for support. Throughout the challenge, Miles Lane has also been working with Healthy Acadia, utilizing Let’s Go 5210 resources around physical activity and healthy nutrition and the US Department of Agriculture’s SNAP Ed nutrition classes.
On January 23, Miles Lane will hold their Winter Carnival, the closing event for the competition, with a snow date scheduled for the following day. The Winter Carnival event will feature two hour blocks of time, one in the morning for third and fourth graders and one in the afternoon for first and second graders, with other opportunities to participate during other parts of the day.
For more information about the WinterKids program, visit their website at www.winterkids.org; for more information about Miles Lane’s community partners, such as Healthy Acadia, Let’s Go, or SNAP Ed, visit www.healthyacadia.org or email Julie Daigle at [email protected]/ Emily Herwerden at [email protected] For information about the Bucksport YMCA, visit them online at www.defymca.org.