Healthy and Fit Kids –
Las Cruces Public Schools, New Mexico

Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Initiative

Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) is always looking for innovative ways of changing the way P.E. classes are taught in the state of New Mexico. Through support from the Health Foundation, the school district is revising a traditional skills-based gym curriculum into one that blends movement and activities with nutrition and personal health. This partnership looks to build a sustainable support system inside the school district for coordinated school health.

The school district’s “Healthy and Fit” project is a three-year strategy aims to develop the “whole child.” While the curricula and other programs are very important, such benefit is possible only because of the newly created position of a Health and P.E. Specialist at LCPS. The three-year funding will be split over each year with the fourth year funding for the position going 100 percent to the school district.

After extensive research, LCPS adopted the “Focused Fitness-FIVE FOR LIFE” P.E. curriculum, which uses age-appropriate academic instructional units in an activity-based setting to move students through a continuum of learning without compromising activity time.

Healthy and Fit Kids, Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Initiative

Testing and implementing an entirely new curriculum for physical education and health is something Las Cruces P.E. teachers are getting used to. This process always takes people out of their comfort zones and challenges the individual to create new and innovative ways to deliver instruction. This is particularly true when working to overhaul decades-old instruction around a subject as set as physical education.

The state of New Mexico has taken notice of this innovative approach. In April of 2016, it honored LCPS with a state health department award for improving health through the Healthy and Fit project.

"The Healthy Fit kids program is not just about getting kids to be physically active. It is about teaching kids to learn about their body and how it works best,” says Jim Maes, LCPS staff development specialist for health and physical education. “The program is giving students the tools to be socially, physically, intellectually, culturally, emotionally and spiritually healthy."