Tackling the childhood obesity epidemic can be overwhelming, but one school nurse in Hinesville is hoping a study being conducted in a science class will get students moving, one step at a time.
Peggy Rayman has been a nurse for 40 years. For the last four of those, she has been the school nurse at Lewis Frasier Middle School.
She said being a school nurse is a whole different ball game than it was even 10 years ago.
"Our particular skill we bring to the table is focusing on the health of students which is way more than boo-boos and Band-Aids." Rayman said.
She knows that healthy students equals better learners.
"When they do have high blood pressure, [are] pre-diabetic, [and are] hypertensive, they won't do well in class, but changing culture isn't easy," she said.
After reading about the growing national trend of high blood pressure in children and teens, Rayman applied for a grant to put treadmills in the classroom so she could monitor the long-term health benefits to students.
"I began to wonder - are we missing something? And so with this grant, I did end up screening the students who would be using the treadmills in the classroom and was quite shocked to find what we found in our kids here," she said.
The treadmill desks were put into four science classrooms last spring to determine whether increased activity during the day would decrease the students' blood pressure and body mass index.
Thirty-two students used them last spring for three months and the results seem promising:
Seventh-grader Daquan Bell just joined the study and started walking on a treadmill.
When asked how he would feel about being a part of a project that could help 100s more children like himself, he said: "It'll be fun."
It may be fun for students, but it's serious for Rayman and parents.
"This is a critical part of education," she said.
Rayman's experiment could become a full funded research project. The University of Georgia will be visiting the school. That could help bring treadmills to all Liberty County schools.
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