Originally published Dec. 12, 2017 in the Chicago Daily Herald.

By Dave Heun

Physical education teachers Gus Silva and Russell Williams didn’t waste much time getting students at Richmond Elementary School in St. Charles more interested in healthy lifestyles.

When the National Dairy Council and National Football League launched a Fuel Up to Play 60 in-school health and wellness program about seven years ago, Silva and Williams jumped all over it.


Photo courtesy of Gus Silva

The result is four of the district’s elementary and middle schools are involved in the program: Davis Primary, Richmond Intermediate, and Wredling and Thompson middle schools.

Silva, as a dean at what is now Richmond Intermediate School, is pleased to see every third-, fourth- and fifth-grader in the school involved in some fashion.

The program, which stresses physical activity, nutritional eating and serving the community, spread when Williams transferred to Wredling and his wife, Rachel Williams, introduced it at Haines and, now, Thompson Middle School.

“A leadership team of 55 students is heavily involved in doing a lot of the planning and administering of the program at Richmond,” said Silva, who is in his 10th year with the school district and also worked on the program at Davis School. “But all of the students benefit because there are different clubs that are offshoots of this.”

Still, the program has become so popular, students interested in being on the leadership team have to apply for a position — that many want to be part of overseeing the activities.

While the premise of Fuel Up to Play 60 is for students to be moving throughout the day for up to 60 minutes, the clubs that help reach those goals include a dance club, the Morning Fit Club before school, and the 100-Mile Club, which encourages students to run during recess.

The notion that students aren’t as active today because of smartphones, DVDs, streaming video or video games, gets some water thrown on it from Fuel Up to Play 60.

“Interestingly, our school is a one-to-one school, meaning each student has a Chrome Book,” Silva said. “We use this technology as a tool to help us reach the goals of the program.”

It’s a case in which students are being taught to not allow technology to take over their lives, but at the same time using it as a guide to getting out and staying healthy and eating healthy food, Silva added.

“Technology can help us be active and spread the word about being healthy,” he said.

    Select Your State or Country

    How'd you hear about us?