One thing that stands out for school-age chidren is participating in field day, a day of games, activities and competition. This year’s field day at Freeman’s Mill Elementary School students had a great sense of enjoyment from physical activity, something school physical education teacher Mark Collins said was helped by a $5,000 state grant.

The school partnered with Georgia Shape, the governor’s statewide, multi-agency and multi-dimensional initiative, and has used the grant money to educate students with healthy lifestyle options. Half of the money was spent on nutrition, while the other half was spent on physical activity.

Some uses of the money include providing incentives to students who brought healthy snacks and allowing students to try different healthy foods such as black bean hummus, mangos and vegetables.

“We noticed a lot of children would have high carb snacks such as cookies, chips and crackers,” Collins said. “We wanted to show them there are options out there that are good for them.”

In addition to providing nutritional education, the school also began a Fitbit challenge in which students in each classroom would try to get as many steps as possible.

“We had parents, students in the classroom and teachers compete every month to try to get the most steps on Fitbits,” Collins said. “It really gave parents an incentive to not only help their kids exercise, but also spend time exercising with them.”

The participation, coupled with competitive spirit throughout the year, step field day up to be an enthusiastic event.

Some of the activities included in the field day were a basketball relay, where teams of four competed against each another to try to make as many shots as possible in their respective basket, a water balloon toss that tested teamwork and hand-eye coordination, and a tug-of-war contest between the six second-grade classes.

“It’s a chance for the students to be physically active and have fun,” Collins said. “It seems like field day always make special memories and brings us back to our childhood.”

The activities selected were a combination of individual and group competitions.

“We looked at cooperative activities that allowed kids to work as a team,” Collins said. “We had winners and losers, which is fine because it helps them as they get older deal with certain situations.”

“We talk about being positive and a good winner as well as if you lose it being OK,” he said. “I know I’ve learned more lessons from losses in life than wins.”

Throughout the day, excitement at field day was sky high with children running around, some even with the Fitbit on.

One of the students that participated in the Fitbit program was second grader Hannah Roy.

“Mr. Collins was talking about it (Fitbit program) and I thought it would be fun to help other kids get out and exercise.

Roy, who participated in her first field day at Freeman’s Mill, said her favorite event was the tug-of-war.

During the tug-of-war, her team of girls beat an all-boys team, something she hopes to repeat at next year’s field day.

I graduated from Brookwood High School and Georgia Southern University with a degree in Journalism. I cover news and education for the largest school system in the state of Georgia.

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