Officials with a school district in central Iowa are looking for ways to encourage students to get in better shape. Matt Tullis with Marshalltown schools, says about one-third of youth nationwide are obese or overweight and the situation is even worse in Marshalltown. “We’re seeing, as a district, somewhere around 47-percent,” Tullis said.
Last fall, the Marshalltown School District became one of just 60 districts in the country to land a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to focus on getting kids active. The district purchased 4,000 pedometers with the grant money and found many students weren’t reaching a recommended goal of 9,100 steps a day.
“So, that’s what we’re working on…educating kids and families about the importance of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day,” Tullis said.
Each school in Marshalltown now has an “activity team” — charged with the task of improving the district’s statistics related to childhood obesity. “We are looking at our physical education curriculum, as well as our health education curriculum,” Tullis said. Families will also play a crucial role in getting kids active, Tullis added.
The district is receiving $480,000 a year as part of the three-year federal grant.