By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The students at St. Mary’s School in Shrewsbury began a new physical education program called Skillastics® in March, thanks to a grant from the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce.
Melissa McElreath, the school’s physical education teacher, applied for funding through the chamber’s mini grant program last fall.
Skillastics was developed by Sandy Slade, a professional sports entertainer specializing in basketball handling. Slade is passionate about a healthy and fit lifestyle, especially for children. According to the website, www.skillastics.com, “with increased childhood obesity, and the reduction of physical education programs nationwide,” instructors limited in class time were constantly looking for ideas and resources to make the most of each and every class.
Additionally, many children, accustomed to inactivity, lacked motivation and interest in physical fitness all together. With these facts as her motivation, Slade created Skillastics. Since its introduction in 2003, over 20,000 schools, afterschool programs, camps, and community-based organizations are enjoying Skillastics and the benefits it provides.
The program is a series of standards-based fitness and sports-specific games that allow one to 100 children of varying ages and fitness levels to participate and enjoy being active at one time in an organized, fun, and non-competitive atmosphere.”
According to McElreath, “the need behind this grant was fairly simple. I am with limited space and materials and am always looking for new and fun ways to teach my students the importance of health and nutrition. I saw Skillastics in many of my equipment catalogues and thought, ‘what a fun and creative way’ to implement fitness and nutrition into my classes.”
“This program has different levels so it is able to accommodate students of all ages, grades K-12. It also provides knowledge that they can use to help keep them healthy throughout their lifetime and they can share it with their family, and friends who may not attend St. Mary’s.
“One of the selling points for me was that it required little space and equipment. Having both a small area with which to teach and limited equipment (most fitness equipment I bring from home,) this program was very appealing,” she added.
According to the Skillastics website, this program is easy to set up and teach, aligns with Common Core, fosters positive behavioral change through cooperative activities and it incorporates nutritional instruction. Notably, the Skillastics program also meets the four criteria that Corridor Nine mini grants must adhere to: 1) demonstrates innovative and creative teaching ideas, 2) provides enrichment, 3) benefit to students, 4) number of students directly impacted, and 5) longevity of purchased items.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in October and will be reviewed by members of the School/Business Partnership Committee. Awards will be made in November. For more information contact Karen Chapman, the chamber’s president, at [email protected].