For Immediate Release
April 01, 2009
Contact Information

Coach Shelton O'Brien-Smith

(BPRW)Deerfield Beach Teacher Targets Childhood Obesity

(BLACK PRWIRE)(April 1, 2009) Deerfield Beach elementary teacher develops program that combines physical fitness with academics. Once a week after school, Shelton Smith pulls out hula hoops, tennis balls and scooters.

To Teach Math and English

Smith, the physical education teacher at Deerfield Park Elementary School, combines physical fitness and learning in a program he calls Edu-Fitt. The goals: to make learning fun and teach fitness habits that can help combat childhood obesity.

"If they're obese now, they'll be obese adults," he says. "We have to do something now. We have to bring as much awareness to the epidemic as we can."
A former fourth-grade teacher at Royal Palm Elementary in Lauderhill, Smith created Edu-Fitt a year ago because children learn better when they're active, he notes. He cites the work of Harvard's John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (Little, Brown and Co.; $24.99).

"I cannot underestimate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain," Ratey writes. "Exercise stimulates our gray matter to produce Miracle-Gro for the brain."

Smith also is teaching his Edu-Fitt program for the Broward County YMCA, the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority after-school program and other groups.

Smith also mixes fitness and learning in his regular PE classes, and Deerfield Park principal Constantina Pettis approves. "The kids love it," she says.

On a recent school day, Kiona Davis, 10, dashed back and forth to a dry-erase board. She was factoring numbers.

"I had fun," the fifth-grader said. "And I learned something."

Exercising mind and body
Market multiplication: The children get a math problem then push a scooter to a milk crate while holding a plastic bag full of tennis balls. Afterward, they have to take out the number of tennis balls that makes up the correct answer.

Factor game: Kids are asked to find a factor of a number then must walk from one end to another balancing a ball on a tennis racket and write the answer down.

Geometry hide-and-seek: Different geometric shapes (such as a red square) are hidden under cones, and the students must run to the cone they think has a specific shape. If their shape isn't under the cone, they have to run back and a teammate picks another cone.

More Fit

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Story by:
Nick Sortal | 
South Florida Sun-Sentinel