John Wall, Wizards guard, helps kids get active

Photo: Brianne Carter/WJLA

Students at Simon Elementary School in Southeast Washington had a special guest Friday. Washington Wizards guard John Wall stopped by to talk to students and promote a new school fitness program.

Wall worked out with the Ward 8 students who are working hard to stay healthy.

“They come out here, play around, have fun with classmates and then get yourself ready to get a good education,” said Wall.

The morning exercise has become routine for nearly 50 students at the school. It’s all part of the “Build Our Kids” program, a 45-minute before-school physical activity designed to enhance health and academic performance of students.

Alisha Townes, a fifth grader, participates three mornings before school.
“Sometimes we play games or go out on the field,” she said.

According to the 2010 Shape the Nation report, national guidelines recommend children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, yet fewer than 4 percent of elementary schools provide daily PE and only 57 percent have regular recess. To change those numbers, DCPS introduced the BOKS program last year. While it’s helping their bodies, teachers say it’s helping their minds, too.

“We talk with the teachers and we get feedback from them and we know that these students who participate are more alert in the morning and ready to learn and we know if their bodies are active their minds are going to be active,” said Ewunike Akpan, a BOKS coordinator.

Wall says he wishes he had a program like this when he was growing up.

“I used to use chocolate milk at lunch to get energy. That’s too late in the day, already slacking in class work,” he said.

The program is already in 13 schools in D.C. and 160 schools nationwide. The goal is to have it in hundreds of more schools by the end of 2013.