From all accounts, the introduction was a resounding success.
The Sweat Hawgs program is designed to support students and teachers in their pursuit of healthy habits and a lifetime of physical activity.
The pilot program incorporates all nine Fayetteville elementary schools and includes 1,764 students from the third, fourth and fifth grades.
Ginger Campbell, director of physical education for the Fayetteville School District, distributed T-shirts at Vandergriff School last week and said afterward, "We rocked the house!"
So much so that first- and second-graders were probably a little envious.
Campbell talked to the kids about all aspects of fitness, and told them all 160 Lady Razorbacks will be out to visit the grade schools this year. Members of the UA volleyball program accompanied Campbell to Vandergriff.
"This all culminates with the Tennessee-Arkansas women's basketball game on Feb. 20 at Bud Walton Arena," Campbell said. "The students in the Sweat Hawgs program will get in free, and the halftime will be dedicated to it. We'll recognize the best-performing students."
Campbell, asked why students from the third through fifth grade were targeted, said, "Those are the right ages to test cardiovascular fitness."
She added with a twinkle, "It gives the second-graders something to look forward to."
Arkansas women's Athletic Director Bev Lewis endorses the program.
"We all know that exercise makes us healthier, particularly the older we get," Lewis said. "The best way to make sure is to get into good exercise habits early in life."
UA women's sports publicist Bill Smith said other schools in Arkansas have already expressed an interest.
"If this program works, we're going to roll it out statewide," Smith promised. "And our UA students are incredibly on board with it."
Said Lewis: "Our Lady Razorbacks want to be positive role models for our youth -- boys and girls -- and help promote a healthy lifestyle. All of our athletes remember someone who reached out and helped them when they were little. This is a great opportunity for our teams to give that back to the community that supports them."
Athletes from the 11 UA women's teams will visit classes and recognize good sportsmanship as well as fitness improvements.
The young students will be measured based on standards outlined within the state-adopted physical education curriculum, including pre-testing and post-testing.
Campbell cited a recent report by "Action for Healthy Kids, The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in our Schools" about the impact of regular physical activity on academic performance.
The report stated: "Students participating in daily physical education exhibit better attendance, a more positive attitude toward school and superior academic performance."
It's no accident that Lady'Backs athletes have consistently achieved great success in the classrooms.
My fifth-grade teacher at Washington School in Fayetteville, Mrs. Haynes, was ahead of her time. She would take a few minutes each day to shepherd us outside and have us run a lap around the school.
"It's good for your lungs," she would say.
Good for the heart, too. And it was like an extra recess period.
Washington Regional Medical Center and the Bank of Fayetteville have signed on as sponsors of the Sweat Hawgs program.
For more information, call Chris Pohl at (479) 575-7312.
'Sweat Hawgs' Program Kicks Off
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