McLean Co. PE Teachers Take Courses to SPARK Physical Education

McLean Co. PE Teachers Take Courses to SPARK Physical Education

LEROY - Winter break ended early for a group of McLean County gym teachers. They hit the floor of the Leroy Replex Friday morning for the benefit of their students.
LEROY - You've probably seen some of the national campaigns, urging kids to get out and play every day.

But a lot of schools are seeing less gym time because of funding cutbacks. Now, McLean county physical education instructors are learning a whole new way to move.

Winter break ended early for these gym teachers. They hit the floor Friday morning for the benefit of their students.

"Lot of times, PE teachers, when they're active, they're having a lot of fun. We're just big kids at heart, usually," said David Ludwig, a physical education teacher for Ridgeview Elementary in Colfax.

With new core requirements for physical education, and fewer funding dollars for many, this "We Choose Health" grant could help reshape their curriculum.

"I don't know if we could afford it, per se, if we had to buy it through my PE budget. That helps a lot and at least gets our foot in the door and trying the program out, which I think is going to have a lot of benefits," said Ludwig.

The program is called SPARK, and it's designed to do just that, with new materials that are both fun and economical.

"This one, it was instant partners and it didn't really matter who won. If those competitive kids want to yell out their scores and they're excited because they had more, and it doesn't really matter to them as well," said Stacie Martin, a physical education teacher for Tri-Valley elementary and middle schools in Downs.

"They started realizing that when they started implementing physical activity, it was not only impacting that, but also the student's ability to learn and they were doing better...the ones that had more physical activity," said Teri Payne, health promotions specialist for McLean County, and organizer of the class.

All the while, they're laying a baseline.

"Just how to skip, or how to slide, and then when they go junior high and high school, they know how to start those beginning basketball skills. So, it just kind of builds upon that, and the kids don't even realize that they're doing that," said Martin.

"In a small area, this is going to work for a lot of people," said Ludwig.

And all of the smaller activities can even lead to something a bit bigger.

"I like the way that was broken down, so that you could go to your partner and then it was a whole group activity that everyone else does. So, I think that was a much more fun way and easy. I'll definitely use that," said Martin.

Leroy teachers also took a class called SPARK ABC, which teaches them how to have a better recess experience both indoor and outdoor.

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