Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joined Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to take view the wellness program at Goodrell Middle School in Des Moines Wednesday. Huckabee, who is a republican, visited Iowa as part of the National Governors Association “Healthy America Initiative.” He joined Iowa’s Governor to view the program which was started in all of the Des Moines middle schools with a one-million dollar federal grant.
John Walling runs the program at Goodrell that includes having kids toss medicines balls and move their feet to a computer dance program. Walling is not the P.E. teacher — he’s the Healthy Choices coordinator — a title he says reflects a change in philosophy. He says physical education was for the nine or 12 percent of the students who were athletes, but now they address everyone’s needs and aren’t geared just for athletes. He says it builds in cooperative gains, team building, skill building, things the kids can use in the future, not build athletes. He says it also lets them to talk about nutrition issues, to address the obesity problem and talk about health and wellness. One of the stations Walling showed to the governors was a cargo net that two kids climb on together. He says they go round and round and develop their arm strength without knowing it. He says it’s a great activity for their core strength and flexibility.
Huckabee says the program is a good start to turning around an obesity epidemic among our kids. He says it’s a whole new idea in approaching physical education to not just teach a few students to be good at games, but to allow every student to move toward a level of health and fitness. He says that’s the type of culture of health they’re trying to achieve with Healthy America. Governor Vilsack says the cost of the program is worth it in the end.
He says he thinks the long-term will show the students who’re healthier will improve their performance in the classroom because they are more active and engaged in their studies. He says it serves the whole child.
Vilsack , a democrat, says he believes other schools will be interested in the program too because of the benefits. He says if health care costs are lower, then businesses are more competitive. He says if businesses are more competitive, then it helps everyone. Vilsack says this was a program started by local school teachers and he thinks others across the state are interested in joining in to teach healthy habits to kids. Huckabee and Vilsack are both potential presidential candidates, and said federal officials need to do more to encourage programs like the one at Goodrell.