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LI students learn about healthy lifestyles

John Galdamez, 9, of Uniondale, eats a midmorning

John Galdamez, 9, of Uniondale, eats a midmorning snack as part of "Respect Day" at Northern Parkway Elementary School. (Sept. 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Amra Radoncic

Sarah St. Preux munched on a granola bar Friday morning as her teacher explained healthy eating habits.

The 8-year-old was among the students at Northern State Parkway Elementary School in Uniondale participating in the school’s health education initiative.

“Health Day is about getting together and doing lots of fun exercises and eating lots of fruit and learning how to get in shape,” said Sarah, a fourth-grader at the school.

Each year, the schools within the Uniondale School District host a Respect Day. This year, Northern State Parkway decided to focus on health -- with the theme being “respect your mind, respect your body.”

Vice Principal Sheilah Jefferson-Isaac said the school focused on teaching the students how to be active and eat healthy, but it’s not something they will limit to just one day. “Today was the kickoff and we're going to promote it throughout the year,” Jefferson-Isaac said.

Faculty, students, parents and custodians started Health Day with an early morning walk around the school.

Jefferson-Isaac said health activities were implemented in every lesson in every subject.

“In music, they're singing about health and wellness and in art they're doing crafts,” she said. “We give the teachers the freedom, and we really let them develop it to their needs."

Physical education teacher David Ottaviano, 43, of Garden City, taught the fifth graders yoga during Friday’s Health Day.

"These are great alternatives because they're [the students] inundated with technology. Their brain is conditioned to be lazy,” said Ottaviano. “Once you get the ball rolling, even in small increments, it builds on itself."

Yvonne Vidal, 50, a teacher at Northern State Parkway Elementary agrees.

“Kids who are active are better in the classroom,” said Vidal who has been a teacher for more than 26 years. “Their attention span is a lot longer.”

Vidal was giving the fourth graders dance lessons. “My favorite part is the dancing exercise,” Sarah said. “We got to do lots of movements. I think I lost some weight just doing those exercises.”

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