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School Morning Fitness Program Thinks Outside BOKS

Mill Pond hosted the eight-week Build Our Kids’ Success pilot program.

Last Tuesday, before their day’s first bell, about 20 Mill Pond School students did a light jog, squats, burpees and dodgeball.

In the school gym. On their own. Over 40 minutes.

Mill Pond’s eight-week Build Our Kids’ Success pilot program wrapped up last Tuesday morning.

The sessions feature five minutes each of drop off/free play and meeting/warmup time; 10 minutes each of running and a weekly skill; and five minutes each of a game, and cool down, BOKS bit and wrap up time, according to the program’s website.

A version of this Reebok Foundation initiative started at Natick’s Memorial Elementary School in October 2009 by a parent who was inspired by “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” by Dr. John Ratey, MD, of Harvard Medical School, the website notes.

“The BOKS program is powered by communities and relies on the help of parents, teachers, schools and local volunteers to give kids a body and brain boost that will set them up for a day of learning,” the website says.

Parents Nicole and Derek Mohamed are coordinating the Westborough pilot program for Tuesday and Thursday mornings with help from Tony Piscillo, whose son Tony owns Small Town Cross Fit, and volunteer coaches.

“I see a lot of enthusiasm,” Piscillo said during last Tuesday’s session.

“There’s some kids that come in naturally that maybe they might have been pushed into this by their parents a little bit. But I’m seeing that they’re having fun. At the same time, they’re working hard.”

Nicole Mohamed said about 30 students were registered for the Mill Pond sessions, which began in November.

Two more eight-week sessions are probable, she said. Starting a program at the Armstrong Elementary School is a goal, too.

“We’d like to have 80 kids in each session. Most places, there’s a lottery,” Mohamed said.

Last Tuesday’s session began with Piscillo discussing the skill of the week: burpees.

The group then did a warm up, including a light jog. Then, the students paired up for squats, burpees, and wheelbarrows, before playing dodgeball.

“If you get hit by a ball, you go down and do a burpee, and then you can get back up,” Piscillo said.

Mohamed said she saw the students’ movements improve over the eight weeks.

“Squats at first were like ‘What the heck are these?’. And you can actually see them doing squats now. So, it means they’re learning how to use their body,” she said.

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