Students put health lessons into words for a song
Final concert makes fitness knowledge stick
FONDA & FULTONVILLE Brian Chevalier is a game sort of fellow.
Monday morning he strummed his guitar, finding rhymes about tooth brushing and exercise, singing faster and faster until every kid in the Fonda Fultonville elementary school roared with joy.
His mini concert marked the culmination of months of health-oriented songwriting workshops on the part of all the kids.
Watching the cross-legged pre-K through fourth-grade students covering the gym floor twitch and fiddle as they waited for the music to start, school nurse Debbie Mancini explained the project.
“Most of these kids are just naturally fit at this point,” she said. “They’re always moving, but it’s never too early to get them thinking about health.”
In February she applied for a grant from the Rural Health Education Network. With the $2,000 awarded to the school, she hired Chevalier, who does school song events for a living and worked with the kids to write a custom number.
In the process, she said, the kids learned about all sort of healthy habits from eating brussels sprouts to exercising regularly and respecting each other.
He sang the school song twice Monday, along with a few others, accompanied by clapping students and a few lucky enough to score egg-shakers. Even if the kids learned absolutely nothing from the lyrics, they did get a mosh-pit sort of workout.
Justin Kearns, a particularly energetic fourth-grader, busted out moves any adult would recognize from “Saturday Night Fever.”
“I saw them on ‘Little Einsteins’ when I was younger,” he said.
Having created the lines themselves, the students were a bit biased, rocking to the music as if rock star Bono had flown in for the day, but it was actually pretty good stuff.
Phrases like “let’s play” were rhymed with “every day” and mixed with an up-tempo piece of electric guitar to make fitness lessons stick.
“I’m going to have this thing stuck in my head for months,” said fourth-grade teacher Meg Hoffman, her foot tapping. “They really did write the song. All of them.”
For Mancini, the concert was the start of something.
She hopes to expand the music/health program out of the elementary school into middle and high school.
Aside from the kids learning healthy lessons, she said, friendships could grown around fitness.
“Getting all the kids together like this,” she said. “They’ll meet and work together and they’ll have health in common.”