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Trip to the park

May 18, 2008
By Holly Stefanoff (
ROGERS—Some 63 eight and nine year old students enjoyed a scavenger hunt in the great outdoors Wednesday at Beaver Creek State Park.

The entire Garfield Elementary third grade class took a field trip with staff members of East Liverpool City Hospital as the final activity for the Wellness Program sponsored by ELCH.

The hospital staff have been coming to Garfield’s third grade classrooms with activities, lessons and a recent health fair since January promoting wellness. The program is aimed at targeting childhood obesity and other health problems.

“We wanted to make an impact on the community with regards to the promotion of wellness,” vice president of the board of administration Bob Steffen said. “We wanted to start a program that gets kids outdoors and active. We approached the school and the staff and teachers have been wonderful in cooperating.”

The program goes far beyond exercise. This year’s group of third graders are the first group and will be followed up with by the hospital until their sixth grade year. Each new wave of third graders will then get the same program and attention.

ELCH staff monitored height, weight, body mass index, body fat, blood pressure, resting heart rate, glucose and cholesterol levels and pulse oximitry at the health fair held May 3. A second health fair, to be held during the school day, will be June 2 at which students will complete a fitness test with sit ups, jump roping and other activities.

“We want to obtain data on every child through sixth grade and if we are successful, present the program to our board and get adequate funding to take the program to all local schools,” Kristy West, chair of the Wellness Commission said. She said that the hospital is fortunate to have so many community outreach programs and the wellness program at Garfield is another way to be involved.

In January, Elizabeth Duke from the YMCA taught a lesson and games for physical fitness. Nancy Thornberry covered nutrition with the students in February and Dr. Shane Wellington presented a lesson in dental health in March. The children learned about having a healthy heart with Sue Swiger in April and the park hike closed out the year.

“It’s been fun,” Hunter Ulbright, 9, said. “I liked when we did the chicken dance and ate the fruit.”

Third grade teacher Nicole DePace said, “The program makes learning about healthy habits fun for the kids. They’ve learned a lot about exercise, nutrition, dental health and a healthy heart.”

Chaperone Mary Ann Sosack, mother of third grader Preston, 9, said that she has seen definite changes in his behavior regarding exercise and eating habits.

“He was so excited to come home and do all the exercises the nurses taught them,” she said. She said that what he’s learning is changing not only his lifestyle, but their habits as a family. “When he was tested at the health fair he had high blood pressure like his dad. I never expected my nine year old to have high blood pressure.”

The Sosack family also plans to walk together everyday during the summertime.

West is planning to send healthy recipes and tips home at the end of the year with the students to share with their families for the summer months.

“This way the kids can continue over the summer and not have set backs,” she said.

After about a two mile scavenger hunt hike, the children were muddy and excited for lunch and the new jump ropes they were given.

“The kids are full of excitement and so willing to learn,” West said. “This is the age to plant the seed for a healthy lifestyle.”

ELCH head of corporate communications Tina Smith said, “It really validates what we’re doing when the kids are excited to see us and happy to learn.”

When this group of students begin school in the fall, ELCH plans to have new activities and lessons for their school year as well as begin the incoming third graders on the program.

Article Photos

Garfield Elementary third graders enjoyed a scavenger hunt and hike at Beaver Creek State Park Wednesday with the Wellness Program sponsored by East Liverpool City Hospital. (Photo by Holly Stefanoff)



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