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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Westport Schools Receive $936,772 for Wellness Initiative

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The Westport Public Schools will receive a $936,772 U.S. Department of Education grant to fund a three-year “Westport Wellness Initiative,” the school district announced today.

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Dave Gusitsch: pursued grant for Westport schools. Contributed photo

“The goal is to increase student activity, healthy eating, fitness, and state PE standards achievement levels to promote lifetime wellness in the community,” an announcement said. 

The grant will enable the schools to purchase kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, roller blades, and various other supplies for year round indoor and outdoor recreational activities, it said.

Dave Gusitsch, department chair for Physical Education & Health for the Westport Public Schools, said 60 grants totaling $32 million were awarded under the 2013 Carol M. White Physical Education Program by the U.S. Department of Education for Nutrition and Physical Education (PE) programs.

“Dave Gusitsch exemplifies the best in administrators and teachers who seek to provide their students with healthy and active lives while in school and throughout their adult years,” said Elliott Landon, superintendent of schools.

“Dave has worked relentlessly to secure this grant with the assistance of members of our physical education department.”

Landon said Gusitsch’s efforts have been consistent with the directive of the Board of Education that the administration seek every opportunity to receive external funding for desirable educational programs that minimize the impact of educational costs on Westport taxpayers.

“Healthy, active students do better in school and in life,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants will help schools and communities educate students on the value of healthy lifestyles through programs that get kids moving and teach lifelong healthy habits.”

The Westport Wellness Initiative will target all K-12 students.  PE instructors will benefit from technology-focused professional development sessions that provide information and strategies for effectively incorporating the use of technology into the PE classroom, the announcement said.

Community collaboration and coordination will be a key element of the project approach, it said.

For example, partnering with Wakeman Town Farm will allow teachers to gain information and training for nutrition education and student opportunities to be active outside of school, the announcement said.

Also, working with local community organizations by participating in Wellness-based events that promote the Westport Wellness Initiative to the greater community, will offer students and their families access to a wide range of information on healthy living.

The introduction of “exergaming” or “interactive fitness” equipment is an innovative component of the Westport Wellness Initiative, the announcement said.

Interactive fitness refers to an exercise experience in which a fitness component is partnered with a piece of technology to create an activity that is rigorous, yet entertaining, it said.

Interactive fitness may also be in the form of technology-driven activities that require students to use their body to participate.

In order to take advantage of Westport’s location near the water and a variety of trails and parks located in the area, Westport Public Schools will acquire equipment such as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, roller blades and various other supplies that will provide opportunities for students to explore local resources that promote a healthy, active lifestyle.

PE instructors will be trained in proper, safe use of the equipment.

Programs at each level will consider the needs of all students and provide opportunities for any student who may have a disability and may not otherwise be able to participate. 

Posted 10/08 at 08:33 PM 

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