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St. Regis Mohawk students earn Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge

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AKWESASNE - The St. Regis Mohawk School was named one of the winners of the 2013 Empire Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge and will be receiving a live dance party with Radio Disney.

The school, which won the challenge for the second year in row, will also be receiving a $500 gym equipment package.

“It is great to be involved in the program and we are very fortunate to have won again,” St. Regis Mohawk School Principle Sharlee Thomas said.

The Empire Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge encourages children and their families to get fit together by participating in fun activities. Participants in the challenge were asked to try and be active for at least 20 minutes every day.

In order to successfully complete the challenge, students had to be active for a minimum of 40 of the 55 days in the challenge. The challenge ran from Sept. 30 through Nov. 23. Ms. Thomas said that the school had to apply to be in the challenge through Walk Across America.

Kathy Valancious and Brian Lavack, physical education teachers at St. Regis Mohawk School, were the teachers instrumental in making the challenge a success. The gym would be open for the students to do laps in the morning after breakfast and the students would log their laps on a sign-in sheet. Ms. Valancious and Mr. Lavack were responsible for compiling all of the data.

“I am very fortunate to have a great group of teachers,” Ms. Thomas said. “Mrs. Valancious did a lot of work on the program.”

Ms. Thomas said the teachers tried to encourage their students to get involved in the challenge. The school also opened up the gym to students for basketball, volleyball and other activities after school.

According to a press release by health insurance provider Empire BlueCross, the sponsor of the challenge, 17,929 children at 50 elementary schools registered for the challenge in 2013. Nearly 160,000 students nationwide signed up to participate in this year’s Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge in Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, Ohio and upstate New York.

The St. Regis Mohawk School has tried to schedule the dance party with Radio Disney, but weather conditions on the day the party was planned forced the school to reschedule. Ms. Thomas said that she will be in contact with Radio Disney to come up with another date.

Ms. Thomas said the St. Regis Mohawk School did not just stop with the Empire Get Active, Get Fit School Challenge. The school also joined the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. The program was founded by the National Dairy Counsel and the NFL, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The program empowers students to take charge in making small, everyday changes at school, according to the program’s website. Students can win prizes, like having an NFL player visit them or getting Super Bowl tickets.

Students are rewarded for choosing healthy foods and getting active for at least 60 minutes every day. The program’s goal is for kids to make a difference in not just their lives, but also their community.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17 percent or 12.5 million of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. Obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has nearly tripled since 1980.

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