By Rob Glidden
Southington’s elementary schools collaborated with the Activate Southington group for the town’s first participation in a worldwide exercise program, including about 700 students at Derynoski Elementary School.
Activate Southington, the community initiative pushing for healthier lifestyles in town, facilitated the involvement of the school district in Project ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneously). ACES is a long-running event that was originally held in New Jersey in 1989. Since then, it has expanded to all over the nation and over 50 other countries.
“Millions of people will be exercising at the same time that we are,” said Diane Botsacos of Activate Southington. “This has been going on for 25 years, but nobody in Southington has done it before.”
On the morning of May 1, hundreds of students gathered outside the school for 15 minutes of exercise.
“We’ve been talking about health awareness all week,” said Derynoski Principal Jan Verderame. “When I asked which classes wanted to do this, they all did. So it looks like it will be the whole school.”
Local Zumba instructor Candi Guro led the students along with her three daughters. She said the students caught on quickly, although she couldn’t necessarily see the ones in the very back of the large crowd.
“I never worked with this many
kids at once,” Guro said. “It was really a great time.”
For fifth-grader Taylor Starr, it was her first exposure to Zumba, the dance-oriented fitness program that has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last several years.
“It was a really good experience,” she said. “I had a lot of fun.”
Fifth-grader Glenn Halliday added that “It was really exciting. Good exercise too.”
Activate Southington hopes to encourage more physical activities within Southington’s classrooms. The following day, some teachers attended a workshop on how to incorporate further movement into their lessons.
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