Date: 4/14/2009

Take 5 for Life Program gets a Workout, goes Green

Students and teachers in the Take 5 for Life health and fitness program are going green by reducing the amount of paperwork used for worksheets and to tabulate results. St. Stanislaus School student Lino Tirado of East Chicago can now enter his pedometer steps online as well as complete lesson worksheets on the Take 5 for Life website.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Foundations of East Chicago, Take 5 for Life, the school-based student fitness and nutrition program facilitated by The Community Hospital Fitness Pointe® health and fitness professionals, has been transformed into a web-accessible, paperless system. The new “Green” program enhancements allow teachers to deliver weekly lessons via SMART board technology in the school computer labs and students to complete worksheets online.

Take 5 for Life is the 12-week, in-school pedometer-based walking competition with weekly fitness/nutrition curriculum aligned with State of Indiana education standards. The five components of the Take 5 program are to eat healthy; be active; manage your mind (abstain from drugs, alcohol and tobacco); be well-rested and feel good about yourself.

Exercise program director Debi Pillarella, M.Ed., of Community Hospital Fitness Pointe says childhood obesity is at an all-time high in the United States. Excess weight puts kids at risk for serious health complications, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

“Currently, most states register at least a 20 percent obesity rate, and many register between 25 percent and 30 percent. Indiana ranks 10th out of 50 states as the most obese, with a 27 percent obesity rate,” Pillarella said. “With numbers rising, especially here at the local level, it is important to teach healthy lifestyle values early, in the elementary grades, because altering one’s health habits becomes more difficult as people age. Families and schools can play a vital role in encouraging good nutrition and physical activity—behaviors that can help prevent childhood obesity.”

The interactive Take 5 for Life program has many components, some of which include pre/post data collection (height, body mass, lean mass, blood pressure, etc.), healthy snacking, guest speakers, in-class fitness routines led by certified personal trainers, as well as daily pedometer walking. With the “Green” program enhancements, students now have individual log-ins to access their personal portal on the Take 5 for Life web site. Students enter their pedometer steps online as well as complete lesson worksheets to demonstrate knowledge of content areas provided by their teachers.

The greener version of Take 5 for Life will continue to have ‘live’ presentations with The Community Hospital Fitness Pointe fitness and health staff. These presentations bring the curriculum to life for students, Pillarella said. Children participate in classroom fitness routines, taste healthy foods and participate in ‘skits’ to reinforce their lessons.

In addition, Take 5 for Life extends to the families through parent forums and distribution of family fitness and nutrition educational materials. The program concludes with a school assembly presenting a Take 5 for Life banner to school administration and faculty, and each student receiving an honorary medal and a healthy treat.

Since 2004, the Take 5 for Life program has reached more than 2,500 students in East Chicago, Hobart, Hammond, Whiting and Lake Ridge elementary schools. During the time the curriculum has been used in the Northwest Indiana elementary schools, Take 5 for Life has been supported with funding of more than $160,000 from The Foundations of East Chicago, Inc. and $70,000 from: Indiana State Department of Education; General Mills; Mittal Steel Co.; United Way of Porter, Lake and LaPorte Counties; City of Whiting; Health Visions Midwest; School City of Hobart; Community Hospital in Munster; and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.