Lynchburg, VA - The obesity epidemic among our kids is troubling, now some schools want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. At Dunbar Middle School in Lynchburg, it started with gym class.
Dunbar made two changes - the amount of gym class and the type of exercise. Just six weeks in to the school year, they say the idea is working.
You don't see it every day: Kids willing, even eager, to work up a sweat.
"They can't wait to get here. Most of the time, they come running down the halls to get here," said Brandon Stanley, a P.E. teacher at Dunbar Middle.
Stanley helped revamp gym class. First change: "We switched from a more static stretching routine," said Stanley. "Ya know, 10 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups, things like that to a more dynamic routine."
Then, administrators made a bigger change - gym class every day for 47 minutes. The kids are not complaining.
"I like having it everyday now. Instead of just having it for 30 minutes, now it's longer," said Peter Carney, 6th grader.
"After P.E. we feel all nice and good and ready to start off the day," said Keeric Davis, an 8th grader.
The Dunbar gym class is a year-long experiment. Leslie Hoglund with the Lynchburg Health Department is studying the effects. She got a grant for this from the CDC.
"We are really interested to see what impact this is going to have on them holistically - academic achievement, as well as the health status of the students," said Hoglund.
It's still early. Officially testing the gym effect is not until next year. But Dunbar Principal Brian Wray's seeing good signs - more energy and interest in the classroom.
"That blood going to their brain, actually they see the results in the classroom," said Wray.
"It helped me keep more focus, because I'm up and got more energy and booted up," said Keeric Davis, 8th grader.
One big reason Dunbar was able to add gym classes: the school system went from a seven to an eight period day. The longer day was meant to add more time for math class. But, Dunbar also found more time for gym.