Wellness Sticks get students active in the classroom
The Fremont Regional Health & Wellness Team recently teamed up with another part of Cañon City Schools to help children throughout Fremont County.
Regional Wellness Coordinator Kristi Elliott reached out to Erin Hoffman, Lisa Tedesko and Pam Hamby of the Bridges Transition Program to seek partnership in the wellness team’s initiative to get a set of Wellness Sticks into every classroom in Fremont County.
Each set of Wellness Sticks contains about 50 extra-large popsicle sticks that have been hand-stamped with different short exercises known as brain boosters. Sticks range in exercises from “Shoot imaginary basketball hoops for 30 seconds,” to “Jump to reach the ceiling for 30 seconds.” One that’s typically a student favorite is to “Move like your school’s mascot for 1 minute.”
The idea of the wellness sticks is to get the students out of their chairs. This gives their brain a boost and helps them recharge in order to be better ready to learn — the increased blood flow brings more oxygen to the brain and leads to improved retention and concentration. Hundreds of teachers, counselors, nurses and secretaries use the free resource each day to help themselves and students.
Tedesko and Hoffman help run the Cañon City Schools Bridges Transition Program, which works with post-secondary students (18-21 years of age) who have been identified as needing assistance with vocational training. The program assists the students with job searches, applications, training and job retention.
“The stick stamping has given the Bridges participants meaningful work,” Hoffman said. “They could see the end product and understood how the sticks were going to be used. I believe they felt proud to know they were (in the long run) helping younger students better themselves.”
Tristyn Bielz and Grant Brown are two of the Bridges students who helped with the project that has lasted throughout the school year. They both said they enjoyed the project, and Brown said he enjoyed working with his fellow Bridges students as a team.
“I learned about the exercises,” Bielz said. “I didn’t know there were so many different exercises (you could do to get in shape).”
The sticks have already been distributed and add to the hundreds of sets that already existed throughout Fremont County.
“I hope these Bridges students do realize how much impact they are making on hundreds and thousands of Fremont County students for years to come with their dedication, time and personal touch on the tens of thousands of sticks they’ve stamped,” Elliott said.
At Cañon Exploratory School, more than 75 percent of staff use them, and about 50 percent use them daily. That total number includes the school counselor, health technician and speech pathologist.
“One thing that makes this project great is that we’re supplying the materials to a classroom teacher at zero cost so that they can sustain and have this resource for years to come,” Elliott said. “Students will come and go, but this resource will stay with teachers for years to come.”
The Wellness Team had the option of purchasing the sticks for $10 each, but instead decided to make a similar version and has the cost around $5 each. The money comes from grant funding, and the sets are provided to school district employees — and even some outside the school districts — free of charge.
The wellness team serves the 13 public schools in Fremont County, ranging from Penrose to Cotopaxi. The sticks are used throughout the county, and multiple sets can be found in every school and even in the Cañon City Schools Administration Office.
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