Grant expands fitness program so students have more time to be physically active

Kitana Cano, 8, tries her best to stretch her body.
Kitana Cano, 8, tries her best to stretch her body. Special to Vida en el Valle

While Damian Segura tried out the new trunk extension equipment, Anahí Martinez practiced her push-ups, and Kitana Cano tried her best to stretch her body while other Jefferson Elementary students tried out the sit-and-reach equipment.

The 8-year-old students were some of the Fresno Unified School District at Jefferson Elementary’s after-school program who have access to more fitness equipment and are now spending more time staying physically active longer thanks to support from Kaiser Permanente Fresno.

“To know that Kaiser is partnering with us to make sure our kids are here after school and learning how to do physical activities that can benefit them for life, is everything,” said FUSD Superintendent Bob Nelson of the partnership with Kaiser Permanente Fresno which would help students stay physical fit.

Kaiser Permanente gave a $75,000 grant to Fresno Unified to expand its after-school Fitness is Aces! program.

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Jefferson Elementary students try out the sit and reach equipment Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

On Sept. 5, not only the students had a chance to try out the new equipment - from stretching, running, playing frisbee and participating in other physical activities -

But also Nelson and school board members as well as Kaiser representatives saw the Fitness is Aces! program in action.

Many students said it was fun finding new ways to stay active.

According to spokesperson Kerri Leedy, the grant paid for new exercise equipment, including pedometers and trackers, and hired additional staff to lead group exercise activities.

Students in Fresno Unified’s afterschool program are now receiving an extra 45 minutes of physical activity compared to previous years, said Leedy.

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Damian Segura, 8, tries out the trunk extension equipment. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

Students in the after-school program typically live in low-income neighborhoods with limited access to recreational activities putting them at higher risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.

According to Leedy, the equipment and staff are being rotated throughout Fresno Unified’s elementary schools, so students in every after-school program will have the opportunity to use the equipment.

“It’s just another example of the many ways in which Kaiser supports our kids directly,” Nelson said.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud