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Challenge gets local kids moving
Students submit video for Ga. initiative to fight obesity
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When Beyoncé Knowles says to shuffle, put your knees up and jump rope, Chestnut Mountain Elementary School listens.

More than 300 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students all put their swag on and danced to Beyoncé's "Move Your Body" song as part of the school's anti-obesity initiative this fall. They submitted the video to Live Healthy Georgia, a program re-started in 2010 by Georgia's Department of Public Health.

The inspiration came from a statewide challenge, said Betsy Elrod, physical education teacher at Chestnut Mountain. The state Department of Education asked physical education teachers to create videos with their students.

"They wanted us to use the Beyoncé song," Elrod said. "She created that especially for the ‘Let's Move' campaign. It's a dance, but it's a workout at the same time."

She said at first, she wasn't sure if she could teach her students the dance, but the kids dove right into it. They practiced for two weeks during their block classes — P.E., art, music and computer - for two weeks in September.

"The music teacher allowed them to practice during class and the computer and art teachers let them listen to the music while they did their work," Elrod said. "I had put the (Beyoncé) video on my webpage so kids could watch it and practice at home."

In mid-September it was show time. The students were asked to wear black shirts so they would look uniform in the video.

"I was really surprised it was so much fun," Elrod said. "They totally had fun with it. The kids had a blast. You're moving the whole time, you're sweating. They would (practice) for 40 minutes almost nonstop and loving it."

In addition to the workout, several students were chosen to talk in the video about their healthy habits, which include playing outside and eating bowls of fruit after dinner.

"In the original video, Beyoncé bites into an apple in the end, so they said, ‘Why don't you do that?'" Elrod said. "It was a funny thing."

Students at several other schools also participated in the video contest, some of which are featured on the Live Healthy Georgia website.

Elrod said the video challenge was one of the state's steps to raise awareness of the increasing childhood obesity rate, which is part of Live Healthy Georgia's initiatives — receive appropriate health screenings, eat healthy, get more physical activity, eliminate tobacco use and maintain a state of mental wellness.

"The best part about doing this was seeing how excited they were about getting good at the movies. It's a fairly high-skill dance," she said. "They didn't realize how hard they were working. That's the biggest thing ... making being physically active fun."

Though choreography isn't an integral part of P.E. right now at the school, Elrod decided she was going to give it bigger play from now on.

"I do some dance. I taught the ‘Cha-Cha Slide' and the ‘Cupid Shuffle,'" she said. "I'm going to find some kind of dance that the kids can do to a popular song."

Even though this was the first dance of its kind at Chestnut Mountain, it's already had an effect on students.

"One little girl came up to me and said, ‘My mom loved this. I got her doing this. She does her aerobics tapes and then does this with me,'" Elrod said.

And, as Beyoncé said, a little sweat never hurt nobody.


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