Encouraging residents to become fit and healthy has been a major goal for the city, and San Antonio Independent School District is now joining in. The district is certifying each of its P.E. teachers in Zumba to promote a healthy lifestyle for students and to offer free classes to the community.
Since early May, San Antonio Independent School district has been offering free Zumba classes one day a week at Edison High School as part of the city’s Fit Family Challenge. The program is now at each of the district’s high schools.
This is all funded through a three-year $1.5 million PEP grant – Physical Education for Progress – from the Department of Education to reduce obesity and diabetes.
Roger Rodriguez is the Senior Health Coordinator for SAISD. He said the district is the only one in the country that has Zumbatomics in each of its schools.
“We are trying to get the community family component where kids exercise and their families exercise, that’s the main reason we’re supporting this," said Rodriguez. "We’re trying to get the families to be part of what’s going on in school."
He also said that each of the district’s P.E. teachers will be certified in Zumba so it can be incorporated into the lesson plan. “The forecast is to have as many schools doing Zumba with the community as possible,” said Rodriguez.
Getting communities involved
SAISD is working with the Bexar County Health Collaborative to offer the free classes to the communities surrounding the high schools, and later middle and elementary schools, on certain nights throughout the week. Rita Hernandez is a program manager and trainer for the health collaborative.
“I really do see it going to every single school in the SAISD, that’s what I oversee," said Hernandez. "But again, it’s just a matter of funders. I think what they’re going to see is that ‘this is amazing, this is huge, let’s get it done’ and then it will be in all the schools. And it helps with the elementary schools because they’re all Zumba certified."
While the P.E. instructors teach the students Zumba during the day, instructors with the Health Collaborative will lead the after school version.
SAISD Trustee Olga Hernandez has been participating in the Edison community’s class since it began. She started the push for the community participation aspect through the board.
“We had the title of ‘Fattest City’ at one point and we just decided, ‘Hey, we want to do something about that,’" Olga said. "And if it rubs off on the parents in the community it rubs down to the kids. More exercise for the kids means they’re more alert, they’re more attentive in class and it’s just good for everybody all the way around.”
Already seeing results
The after school program seems to be working for the community. Mary Lucio and Diane Cabrera are friends who attend the class together andCabrera says since the summer it has pushed her to exercise more and embrace an active lifestyle.
“I started my diet since May with Zumba at my house," said Cabrera. "I heard they had Zumba at Edison, so I started doing Zumba every day, so I do Zumba at home, Zumba here. I used to weight 210 lbs. I’m weighing 167 lbs. right now.”
Lucio agrees and says they often participate in activities of their own at Edison.
“I was hesitant to come because I didn’t know how it was going to be," said Lucio. "I thought it was going to be too fast but I liked it. It’s good, it gets you excited it gets you pumped and usually after this we go home, make dinner real fast and we go walk at Edison for an hour-and-a-half to two hours.”
The program is about to start its second year. The free classes are offered at each of the high schools and will likely be offered at middle schools over the next year.