Rebekah Rice and Donna Moore struggled to put on the heavy Payson Fire Department (PFD) gear, grunting and tugging in a good cause.
Rebekah, a fifth grade student at Julia Randall Elementary (JRE), had decided to enter the photo contest hosted by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program.
Her caption for the photo?
“At JRE, we are lighting a fire under physical activity and extinguishing childhood obesity.”
Her physical education teacher, Moore, posed with her in the photo and helped her pull together the photograph with gear.
Both Moore’s son and Rebekah’s father work for the PFD, so partnering up with the department was a natural.
PFD pulled out an engine and the guys had Moore and Rebekah shrug on the boots, fire protective pants and jacket — a workout in itself.
Moore said the Fuel Up to Play 60 program had inspired the JRE student body to increase their physical activity and make better nutritional choices.
“It’s free to sign up,” said Moore.
The Web site (http://www.fuel uptoplay60.com) explains that the program educates students about their nutrition and exercise choices, by making small, everyday changes at school.
The program offers incentives and competitions to keep kids’ interest.
Moore said the Payson students created an online Playbook that tracks their progress on challenges.
Second in the state
Moore said Payson students have accumulated enough points to be second in Arizona and 55th in the nation.
“Over 1,400 schools are participating in Arizona,” said Moore.
Both Moore and the organization say that the program is student driven.
One of the small changes a group of students Moore calls her ambassadors decided to make included approaching the cafeteria and food service staff to suggest changes to the menu.
Rebekah said she put in her 2 cents as an ambassador.
“We got rid of chips and ice cream and had them add apple and orange juice and make the salad bar better,” she said.
Moore said one the grandparents of her students told the story of her grandchild coming home after school. The grandma said she wanted to give her granddaughter a snack. What she asked for stunned the grandma.
“The grandma said she asked if the girl would like a cookie or other treat, and instead her grandchild asked, ‘Do you have any vegetables?’” said Moore. “When they ask that, that’s when you know the program is working.”