Georgia: SHAPE Program Helps Kids Get Active and Fit
Obesity rates in Georgia have tripled over the past 30 years. More than a million students were assessed in five fitness categories during the 2012–2013 school year. Twenty-five percent of students could not pass any of the fitness tests, which measured 1) body fat, 2) physical endurance, 3) flexibility, 4) muscular strength, and 5) muscular endurance. Only one in five students was able to pass all five tests. Georgia used Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to provide mini-grants for local schools to participate in the Georgia SHAPE (Student Health and Physical Education) program.
A total of $334,000 was given to 40 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 7 high schools, and 4 combination schools in Georgia. Schools used SHAPE program grants ranging from $3,000–$5,000 to teach students and parents about healthy eating habits and exercise. The schools also created wellness councils to guide their program efforts and bought supplies and equipment for activities.
Some schools have made major changes. Lewis Frasier Middle School in Liberty County installed treadmill desks in the science classroom, and students were instructed on how to track the relationship between their physical activity and blood pressure. Bells Ferry Elementary School in Cobb County introduced new physical activities, including Zumba®, yoga, and an after-school running club—earning the American Heart Association’s recognition as a “Fit-Friendly School.”
During the school year after the program started, SHAPE retested students in all five fitness categories. Assessment results showed a 3% overall improvement in the students’ fitness test scores, and more students were able to pass the tests than the year before.
More than 46,000 students in 35 counties go to a SHAPE school, and 18 schools have made the Governor’s SHAPE Honor Roll. PHHS Block Grant funding is helping Georgia’s students get healthy and stay healthy.
Story year: 2015