They had to take a test, but it involved their taste buds and their dancing shoes. The students of Paul Munro Elementary School had Zumba and healthy snacks on the agenda during Virginia Healthy Youth Day in January, 2012. The school was one of twenty around the state picked to take part in a day that celebrates healthy, active lifestyles. A grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth allowed students, teachers and parents to take part in Zumba classes, taught by instructors from the YMCA of Central Virginia. After Zumba each student tasted healthy treats like berries, whole wheat crackers and edamame (soy beans). Leslie Hoglund, Senior Health Educator for the Central Virginia Health District, secured the funding for the school event and coordinated the days activities.
A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine showed that physical activity is associated with better academic performance. Virginia Healthy Youth Day aims to encourage children to get active and eat well. The roughly 325 students at Paul Munro appreciated the lesson and the snacks. And the teachers hope to make moving and healthy eating a regular part of the school day.