TAMPA — Half of the children in the world don’t get enough daily exercise.
That is the statistic Kate Sawa, American Heart Association’s executive director and marketing director for the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, cited to the student body during her recent visit to Pizzo Elementary School, nestled along the edge of the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus.
But unlike some other kid-focused forums she’s attended, in this instance she knew she wasn’t preaching to the choir.
This was an occasion in which Pizzo’s fifth-graders were being recognized for placing first among 18 Hillsborough County public schools’ fifth-grade students in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Play 60 Challenge, an initiative supported by the heart association.
During the month of January, the fifth-grade students logged more than 164,000 minutes of exercise, an average of more than 2,000 minutes per student.
“Those numbers are wonderful,” Sawa said. “It shows that you’re interested in living a healthy life style.”
Several Hillsborough County school district officials, as well as Bucs players, cheerleaders and team mascot Captain Fear, were on hand to offer the kids kudos and be witnesses to the school’s grand prize of $2,000 worth of new equipment, including volleyball stands, volleyball training balls, basketballs and more.
“We encouraged the kids to be active, even on the weekends,” said physical education teacher Joy Brasher. “I’m so proud of them. They did a really great job.”
Pizzo’s principal, Pam Wilkins, was delighted with how the students ran with the Bucs’ challenge.
“I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the American Heart Association for teaming up with us,” Wilkins said. “I just hope our students will continue to make fitness a valuable part of their everyday lives.”
Miles Elementary placed second, earning equipment worth $1,500. Cleveland Elementary received $750, Egypt Lake won $500 and Foster Elementary was awarded $250 in P.E. supplies.