Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

News School What's Happening

Let’s Go! South Carolina: FITNESSGRAM® program focuses on student health

trunkliftThis article is the third in a series of four articles focusing on the four objectives of the Let’s Go! South Carolina Community Initiative with BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation and the six participating counties: Anderson, Barnwell, Hampton, Kershaw, Laurens, and York.

FITNESSGRAM®, developed by the Cooper Institute, is the gold standard fitness assessment for school age youth.  FITNESSGRAM® testing is accompanied by web-based software that helps physical education teachers manage fitness testing data and track student fitness and physical activity. FITNESSGRAM® data will be used to track fitness levels (grades 5, 8, and high school) and BMI (grades 2, 5, 8, high school) of youth.

“It just made sense for us to support DHEC’s efforts by making FITNESSGRAM® one of our project objectives,” said Beth Franco, ESMMSC executive director. “The new FITNESSGRAM® software provides PE teachers with tools to record easily and report student’s fitness scores and to engage students in learning about being physically fit and active.”

At least one school district in each of the six Let’s Go! South Carolina counties is required to participate in the statewide implementation of FITNESSGRAM® this school year. Students will learn about aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition and find out if they meet the Healthy Fitness Zone standards for their age and gender.

“One of the great things about this program is that physical education teachers can use reports to track class performance and adjust lesson plans and goals,” said Hannah Walters, Let’s Go! South Carolina project manager. “The report also provides a way for parents to teach their children about the importance of being active and fit.”

Individualized FITNESSGRAM® reports provide information about fitness and suggestions that can help in planning an individual’s fitness plan. Data used in the report is collected from teachers, who will assess students’ performance in the Progressive Aerobic Capacity Endurance Run (PACER), 1-mile run, curl-ups, push-ups, trunk lift, and sit and reach. School administrators can use this information to tailor school health policies to help meet students’ needs. At the state level, this data can be used to monitor trends in students’ fitness status, including overweight and obesity.

“Collecting this data and using it to teach students about the importance of nutrition and physical activity will only benefit the students throughout life,” said Walters. “We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this project as a whole.”

DHEC’s statewide FITNESSGRAM® initiative is free to public schools who want to participate. For more information about FITNESSGRAM®, contact Lynn Hammond, DHEC FITNESSGRAM® coordinator, at 803-898-3076 or hammonld@dhec.sc.gov.