Schools in Rumford, Mexico combine exercise with play and learning
RUMFORD – Teachers at Rumford Elementary School on Wednesday discovered Sizzle & Pop, a program to get students in shape for learning.
Principal Jill Bartash said she observed many students were sedentary and in poor shape when they returned to school after coming home during the pandemic. She said she and Kim Fuller from Meroby Elementary School in Mexico were looking for ways to make students more active.
Enter Team Long Run, a non-profit organization that supports active play for children. Formed in 2017 by Chuck and Hilary Harper-Wilcoxen of Bridgton, it includes a series of free programs that they developed and distributed to schools, community organizations and families.
“As we got to know children, families and schools, we realized that supporting early literacy was probably the most important thing for a child’s school future, so we started to find ways to link running and active play in reading, ”says Wilcoxen.
Sizzle & Pop offers in-class brain breaks for students to stand by their desks and exercise with poster and card visuals.
“The goal this year is to integrate recess walking, keep track of that and set goals as combined schools,” Bartash said. In four to five years, students from both schools could be in a new building, if voters approve a proposal to build a new school, she said.
Team Long Run only works with Title I schools, which are based on the socio-economic status of the community and where 50% of students have access to free or discounted lunches.
Sizzle & Pop is made possible by a $ 5,000 donation from Friends of the River Valley, which covers the Team Long Run programs for six months, helping approximately 600 elementary students in Rumford and Mexico City, and Chisholm Head Start.
The nonprofit organization is focused on providing concrete, community-based solutions to help improve the nutrition, well-being and education of children and families in the river valley.
“It seemed like this fit perfectly with the Friends of the River Valley mission statement,” said member John Béliveau. “The idea was presented to the group’s board of directors, which unanimously supported it.
Established this year, the organization was instrumental in securing two meal delivery vans for Regional School Unit 10, donated $ 20,000 to Rumford Public Library to fund programs for literacy and science, technology, engineering and math for children in the community. He is also working on establishing a pantry and daycare.
“The next step we’re going to try to do is help Hilary and Chuck find funding for the entire year and probably for several years with other organizations we know that support similar missions,” Believeau said.
“We will never ask for a dime from any of our Head Start programs or our elementary schools,” said Harper-Wilcoxen. “We have generous donors, but it takes a lot. “
To donate, go to https://www.teamlongrun.org/