Three students announcing the Ashland Morning NewsStudents at Ashland Elementary School are keeping their minds sharp and their bodies healthy as they participate in a wellness initiative. On Wednesdays, the student news team presents either a wellness tip specifically tailored to elementary-aged students, or lead the school in a physical exercise. In addition to the weekly news segments, students learn about proper nutrition and making smart choices for meals from displays throughout their school.

The Ashland Wellness Committee is comprised of physical education (P.E.) teachers, Julie Whyte and Jason Duncan, Theresa Peoples, school nurse, Dr. Andy Jacks, principal, and several parents from the community. The committee suggests exercises and tips for the students to share on the news.

"The students really enjoy the challenges. They like to get up and participate. I noticed when I ask health-related questions in class, they know the answers that were provided in the tips, so they are paying attention and absorbing the information," Whyte said.

While discussing the wellness initiative with her classmates, third-grader Maya said, "It's important to know these things so you can stay healthy and not get sick." Fifth-grader Julian added, "The wellness tips are great because it shows you how to do exercises like pushups, sit-ups and all different types of workouts."

With help from Instructional Technology Coach Brent Benware, students flexed their creativity to produce a video demonstrating how germs spread. While holding flour, students sneezed into their hands to show just how far germs can fly. Students also put various colors of glitter on their hands, then touched items such as books, pencils and mugs to show how germs intermingle and move from object to object. Glitter was used to show how germs spread through handshaking too. For the final demonstration in their video, Peoples applied a special spray to students' hands and again, had them lightly interact with various objects. Using a black light, the students were able to visualize just how far germs can spread with even the smallest amount of contact.

A reward of additional recreational time was up for grabs for students if they completed the six-week long wellness challenge as a class. Winning classes were able to choose from extra P.E. time or extra recess time that includes P.E. teachers providing exercise and game equipment.

Whyte hopes to see the program continue for many years at Ashland Elementary.