Westport's public school system will receive a $936,771 federal grant to establish the Westport Wellness Initiative, Dave Gusitsch, department chairman for physical education and health has announced.
This is one of 60 grants, totaling $32 million awarded recently under the 2013 Carol M. White Physical Education Program by the federal Department of Education for Nutrition and Physical Education programs.
The Westport Wellness Initiative will target all kindergarten to grade 12 students with a goal to increase student activity, healthy eating, fitness and state physical education standards achievement levels.
"Healthy, active students do better in school and in life," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release. "These grants will help schools and communities educate students on the value of healthy lifestyles through programs that get kids moving and teach lifelong healthy habits."
Physical education instructors will benefit from technology-focused professional development sessions -- as part of the town's wellness initiative -- that will provide information and strategies for effectively incorporating the use of technology into the physical education classroom, the release said.
Students will benefit from a more interactive experience as the program strives to educate the `whole child,' keeping in mind each of the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains in a developmentally appropriate manner, the release said.
It added, "The mind and body connection will be an integral theme throughout the entire program."
The introduction of "exergaming" or "interactive fitness" equipment will be an innovative component of the Westport Wellness Initiative, the release said. This is where a fitness component is partnered with a pice of technology to create an activity that is rigorous and entertaining.
Also, in order to take advantage of the town's location near the water and a variety of trails and parks, the public school system will acquire equipment that provides opportunities for students to explore local resources that promote a healthy, active lifestyle, the release said.
Examples include kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, roller blades and other supplies for year-round indoor and outdoor recreational activities.
"David Gusitsch exemplifies the best in administrators and teachers who seek to provide their students with healthy and active lives while in school and throughout their adult lives," Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon said in the statement.
"Dave has worked relentlessly to secure this grant with the assistance of members of our physical education department," Landon added. "His efforts have been consistent with the directive of the Board of Education that the administration seek every opportunity to receive external funding for desirable educational programs that minimize the impact of educational costs upon our local Westport taxpayers."