Schenectady County

Mohonasen receives cash for physical, nutritional efforts

Mohonasen Central School District has received a three-year federal grant to expand physical educati

Mohonasen Central School District has received a three-year federal grant to expand physical education and nutrition programs both in-school and after-school, school officials announced.

The district received $644,572 through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program for the first year and expects to receive similar awards in years two and three. It will use the grant to improve the physical and nutritional health of approximately 2,500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, said Joseph Scalise, Mohonasen’s director of health, physical education and athletics.

Mohonansen was one of 76 school districts and other education agencies in the country — and one of 10 in New York — to receive the grant.

“This grant is not to change what we are doing, but to enhance what we have and provide more opportunity, so that we can reach more students,” Scalise said.

The district plans to expand athletic programming by incorporating outdoor education, such as Project Adventure, and expand its fitness room by purchasing more equipment. The grant will also pay for the hiring of additional staff and for curriculum development and staff training.

Scalise said the new programming will target students who don’t typically benefit from the traditional “gym” model of team sports activities, including students with special needs.

“We have been accustomed to traditional sports activities. Now we will be able to implement innovative teaching styles and lessons for our students,” Scalise said. “We will expand our curriculum to include interactive fitness, which uses technology to reach students of today.”

The technology will include video gaming systems, such as the Wii.

“We want to maintain and continue to improve our program at the end the three-year grant,” Scalise said.

To obtain the highly competitive grant, Mohonasen had to show it could meet and exceed state standards for fitness. “We have assessments and surveys that looked at our students and their physical activity levels as well as their nutritional habits,” Scalise.

“During each year of the federal funding, we want 90 percent of the students to understand critical elements of the program. We are also looking to decrease their body mass indexes and increase their overall physical health,” Scalise said.

The district will work with Mohonasen’s director of food services to improve students’ overall eating habits and with the Schenectady County Department of Public Health, the YMCA and the Rotterdam Boys and Girls club to provide after-school programming.

In 2007, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district athletic department received a $98,770 Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant. It used the grant for staff training and to buy equipment for the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, including snowshoes.

BH-BL spokeswoman Christy Multer on Friday said the district is still using the equipment purchased and is following the curriculum developed through the grant. “This was hugely beneficial for us, and we continue to apply for funding through the program,” she said. “It has definitively increased the physical activity of our students.”

BH-BL developed programs to track student health as they move through grades, allowing school officials to study and record long-term effects of exercise. “It is all about the race to prevent childhood obesity and show kids how fun exercise can be,” Multer said.

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