As the calendar turned to May, spring officially sprung. Warm weather means that now parks will be filled with running and laughing children, bikes and skateboards will be zipping down streets and traffic will slow on side streets as basketball and hockey games take time-outs to move out of the way, following the familiar cry of “car!”
As luck would have it, the Lawrence School District kicked off National Sport and Physical Education Week, May 1 though 7, with the initial Fun Family Fitness Night at Lawrence Primary School at the Number Two School in Inwood on the first of the month, a warm, beautiful day.
Alongside their parents, students spent 10 minutes at six different activities, which included, basketball, dancing, bike riding and bowling. Students had also created laminated fitness bears in art class, photos of which were spread throughout the walls of the school. Students could bring the bears home and either draw a picture, write a story or take a photo of their family exercising with their bear for a reward.
The Fun Family Fitness Night, replaced the standard field day that the school would host, “It’s always important to get parents involved in the school,” said Principal Christine Moore. “The P.E. teachers came to me and said why don’t we do something where we can get the parents more involved.”
Tara Nelson, a physical education teacher at the school helped organize the event with help from the rest of the department, as well as administration and the art and music departments. “All across the country physical education teachers are hosting events to celebrate and promote quality physical education and healthy lifestyles,” she said. “What better way than to invite the families of students here.”
The hope is that the event can help kick start healthy habits for their students and leave the iPads and televisions to go outside for some daily exercise. “We really want to extend what goes on tonight into their homes,” Moore said. “Pull them away from the technology and get them moving.”
Parents took part in the activities alongside their children, and were happy to see the school pushing this initiative. Gregg Ackerman was with his son Effy, 6. Effy said that soccer was his favorite sport to play. “His mother is a fitness instructor, it’s nice how they promote fitness and exercise,” Gregg said.
Lili Farber, 6, was learning to bowl from her father, Sam. After knocking down seven pins on her second roll, she exclaimed while jumping excitedly, “I like [exercise] because it’s close to dancing and I like dancing.”
Exercise could aid the children’s physical health and possibly the mental health of their parents. Carmen and Amir Gabay had their three children, Paul, 10, Sofia, 7, and Daniel, 3, at the event. “It gets them outside to burn off some excess energy,” said Carmen, as the three kids bounced around excitedly. “It’s a must,” she added with a laugh.
Cheers and laughs filled the gym as parents and children alike went from activity to activity, however, exercise must become a habit for the students to have a major effect.
Two days after the event, Moore said that she’s seen evidence that it’s helped motivate families. “We got a photo of a little girl doing pushups with her fitness bear, and a boy playing baseball with his dad and his bear,” she said. “This idea has spread from the Fun Family Fitness Night to beyond our walls … It helped put fitness and increased physical activity into the parents’ minds. A few told me that night, ‘I haven’t moved this much in a while, and it feels good.”