Reading, writing, and healthy habits? That’s exactly what is taking place at Hungerford Elementary School in the historic Town of Eatonville.
With a small enrollment and faculty, it’s difficult for a student or staff member to walk down the halls of Hungerford Elementary without seeing someone they know. This provides a built-in system of accountability, something Healthy School Team Leader and PE Teacher, Ricky Shaw, was happy to take full advantage of during one of his team’s recent health activities.
To help promote self awareness and a healthy lifestyle for the Hungerford staff, Coach Shaw created his own version of the popular TV show, The Biggest Loser. His objective was to support and encourage all participants with the resources and encouragement they needed to create a personal fitness and healthy eating profile. Coach Shaw took time out of his day to personally document the weight loss of every participating individual. His consistent encouragement and accountability paid off, with many participants achieving what Coach Shaw refers to as “outstanding weight loss results” during the 9-week competition. However, one staff member, Ms. Alicia Washington, led the way, losing a grand total of 47 pounds. Ms. Washington credits her success to Coach Shaw’s dedication to ensuring Hungerford Elementary is a healthy place where students and teachers are ready to learn and teach.
Coach Shaw didn’t stop with the staff, he wanted to ensure a comprehensive wellness program for the entire school. Once again, he used his personal time to create Hungerford Elementary’s first-ever track team. Open to all students, the newly formed track team participates in a variety of physical fitness activities before school. Coach Shaw also constantly weaves nutrition education into his physical education classes, with specific emphasis on the importance of breakfast.
Coach Shaw estimates more than 60% of his students eat an unhealthy breakfast such as donuts, soda, chips, or candy, while others skip breakfast altogether. He observed that when students were supervised, they were more likely to eat healthier foods but when unsupervised, kids were more likely to eat junk food and leave the more nutritious foods on their plates. As a result, you can often find Coach Shaw joining students for breakfast or lunch or even making smoothie samples full of vegetables and fruit for students and staff to taste.
Coach Shaw’s dedication and passion not only worked with the staff, but also with the students. With Coach Shaw’s constant encouragement, one very shy student with low self esteem decided to substitute the junk food he commonly ate with healthier snacks. In addition, Coach Shaw made a deal with the student that if he dedicated himself to training, Coach Shaw would include him on a relay team in Fast Start 11, the annual track meet for elementary schools serving Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville.. To prepare for Fast Start, the student, who rarely participated in any physical activity, was running on the treadmill, using the elliptical and stationary bike, jumping rope, jumping rope and more.
Both the student and Coach Shaw held up their respective ends of the deal. The student trained diligently, so Coach Shaw entered him into a relay event at Fast Start 11. Being part of the relay was life changing for the student, he crossed the finish line with a huge smile and continues to smile as he embraces his healthy lifestyle. His new found appreciation of healthy eating and physical activity has also helped the student reach a healthy weight and increased his self esteem.
Coach Shaw describes the success of the students and staff at Hungerford Elementary as “Kodak Moments.”