Lisa Simpson, The Royal Gazette (Bermuda)

Fri, 24 June, 2016

Physical education teachers have been taught how to use a new computer programme to help empower their students to lead healthy lifestyles.

Teachers from across the island’s public schools took part in the training session about the Spirit System, which includes standardised fitness assessment tools, at Berkeley Institute on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The training was important in that it emphasised the current health-oriented approach to Bermuda’s physical education programme, which focuses on all school-aged children, instead of only on fitness and the more athletic children,” Healthy Schools co-ordinator Marie Beach-Johnson told The Royal Gazette. She added: “This training session will help to facilitate Healthy Schools, which includes the vital partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Department of Health, by ultimately providing school-aged children with the lifelong tools to improve their health and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Ms Beach-Johnson said the training involved hands-on practice with the Spirit System programme and practical activities to simulate what PE teachers will have the students do for each of the fitness component tests.

“The primary goal is that PE teachers will administer each fitness test in a standardised manner that allows the results to be reliable and valid,” she explained.

“PE teachers also learnt that the Spirit System is an extremely powerful tool that is the foundation of the Premier’s Youth Fitness Programme, which will enable PE teachers to empower their students to develop healthy lifestyles and expose them to age-appropriate physical activities.”

Furthermore, they learnt about how wrist heart monitors can increase their students’ interest in physical activity and motivation to become more physically active, she added.

Expert members of the Premier’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, which was convened last year and consists of professionals who have worked with children in health and fitness, also spoke to the teachers.

Richard Fulton highlighted the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s Child Growth Charts and how PE teachers should interpret their students’ body mass index.

Dr Fulton also discussed when a child should be referred to their school nurse or paediatrician.

And public health nutritionist and registered dietitian Cymone Hollis discussed the importance of nutrition and reviewed the EatWell Bermuda Dietary Guidelines.

While the training session was aimed at public schoolteachers, Ms Beach-Johnson added that the Premier’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition plans to meet with the principals of the island’s private schools in the early autumn to discuss implementation of the Spirit System.