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Fitness challenge launched at school

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As obesity rates continue to climb, a local school has been working hard to promote physical activity.

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) has partnered with ParticpACTION to promote the brand new “Community Better Challenge” at St. Francis School, where students are being encouraged to get active from May 31 to June 16.

Students participate in “Move it Mondays" where fitness instructor Shannon Jackson leads an outdoor workout for 20 minutes, "Walk it Wednesdays” where classrooms go outside to walk, and tennis lessons, taught by Al Christiansen.

“We know that there's a clear link between physical activity and academic achievement,” noted Elaine Fischer of the NWHU.

“If we can get kids active everyday we know it leads to better physical, emotional, and mental health.”

Kids are recommended to get 60 minutes of exercise each day and the fitness challenge at St. Francis School is helping them achieve that goal.

Through the challenge, individuals are encouraged to log their hours of physical activity using the ParticipACTION app and grand prizes can be won by those who complete the most hours.

The most active community can win up to $150,000 for local initiatives.

Students also have a chance to win some prizes at St. Francis School as well.

“We're really encouraging all of our schools to get on board because June is big—they're doing play dates, they're doing soccer tournaments, and all these minutes can be counted towards Fort Frances,” Fischer explained.

“But the biggest goal is just student health and there's the added bonus of getting together as a school,” she added.

Students already have a lot of energy to begin with so exerting it through a positive and healthy outlet can be very beneficial, Fischer noted.

“I think it's really important for kids to see that physical activity can be fun in a variety of environments,” she explained.

“They can walk or bike to school, they can get involved in extra curricular classes, it's just support for them to have fun and try to do it everyday.”

Experiential learning lead for the Northwest Catholic District School Board, Jean Bujold helped organize the challenge at St. Francis School and said it is also aimed at helping students develop healthy routines.

“The goal is to promote fitness and healthy living to young people, so that as they move through their life they've established some good healthy living patterns,” she remarked.

“If you establish healthy patterns of exercise at a young age, those are things that carry through your life as you get older.”

“It's just about living a healthy lifestyle so that you enjoy your life to the fullest,” Bujold added.

She is very pleased with the students response to the challenge so far and looks forward to carrying it forward over the next couple of weeks.

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