HAZARD—For decades, Kentucky has fallen into the bottom percentiles for health statistics. According to the 2013 KIDS COUNT County Databook, which rates counties based on childhood health statistics like obesity rates and healthy eating, Perry County was rated 109 out of 120 counties. Students at Hazard Middle School did their part on Thursday to try to improve those health statistics by participating in a fitness fair at the Hazard Pavilion.
Bobby Bowling, P.E. teacher at the middle school, explained that the school partners with ARH every year to put on the fair, which tests exactly how fit the students who participate are with a series of challenges.
“These kids have been exercising all throughout the year in P.E. class, and part of the P.E. program is that … they do what basically is the Presidential Fitness Challenge,” Bowling said.
After completing as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible in one minute, students then have their grip strength measured and are asked to do a sit and reach, in which they see whether or not they can touch their toes. Bowling said students must then run or walk a timed mile.
“Then when they do that they’ll calculate that and they’ll send it to me,” he said, adding that the students with the top three scores in each grade level compete in another competition at the end of the school year for prizes.
“This is basically how we measure their overall fitness level,” he said.
Trajon Campbell, a sixth grader at the middle school, said he thought he did well at the fair and tries to stay active even on days when it isn’t a class requirement.
“I’m usually pretty active. i play football, baseball, and basketball,” Campbell said. “It’s important for us to be healthy because when we get older it’s still going to affect us, how fit we are.”
Campbell said events like the fitness fair were important to help encourage more healthy behaviors in students who may not eat well or exercise.
“I think where everybody gets to see their card, I think it’ll motivate them to keep doing it and try to get better next year.” he said. “This is a really good program, so everybody can stay fit and active and know where they’re at in physical condition.”
Bowling said school officials are furthering their efforts to make and keep the school healthy this year.
“We’re in the process of right now trying to open up a fitness center at the middle school which would be used for our faculty and staff and students … and possibly even the community,” Bowling said.
Bowling said the school is raising money for exercise equipment for the facility, and already has around $1,200 raised. They have also applied for a $10,000 grant through Eastern Kentucky University.
“We really hope that we can get this going for these kids and the school,” he said.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.