Dubai: The past three weeks of the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) have resulted in happier, more energetic students who can concentrate on schoolwork better, prompting some school administrators to continue the programme beyond the 30-day challenge.
Some Dubai schools participating in the monthlong challenge have reported positive results among its students, teachers, and staff who have been taking part in the challenge since October 20.
“The DFC has lifted the morale of our staff and helped improve our students’ concentration,” Jewelia Dakin, marketing and PR manager of Greenfield Community School (GCS), told Gulf News. “At GCS, we firmly believe that happy students learn better. Anything that boosts their mood and sharpens their concentration is an asset to their education.”
During the DFC which encourages residents to exercise for 30 minutes daily for 30 days, many schools in Dubai transformed their premises into outdoor and indoor exercise areas and offered different types of fitness activities.
The GCS, for example, offered daily activities such as early morning fitness classes, hockey lessons, jump rope and hula hoops during breaks. The staff also get to do badminton, group dance, fitness classes, and yoga.
At GEMS Dubai American Academy, morning activities are held for students, teachers and parents from 7am to 7.30am. These include yoga, running club, sports, dodge ball, tag games, circuit training and intramurals for the middle school, Tammy Murphy, school superintendent and spokesperson, said.
Zumba, aerobics, and basketball are the popular fitness activities at Indian High school where more than 10,000 students and over 1,000 staff members are involved in fitness activities for 30 minutes each day.
Other schools got creative in making fitness fun for the kids, like The Children’s Garden (TCG) in Al Barsha. “We have a physical activity wheel in the reception so as the children come in the morning, they spin the wheel and have to do what it says by the end of the day. We have things like ‘20 push-ups’, ‘jog for five minutes etc. The parents also take part in this and complete the physical activity charts on our display,” Helen Black, TCG principal, said.
The fitness challenge coincided this year with the Jumeirah Baccalaureate School’s Fitnovation, which it introduced three years ago.
“We have issued all staff and students with a pedometer and we are trying to cycle around the globe from Dubai to Dubai. The fitness bikes have been stationed on an outdoor shaded court for students to ride during breaks and lunch,” Richard Drew, JBS principal said, adding the school courts have been made available for parents to get fit as well.
Because of the good response, the schools said they would continue the fitness activities even after the fitness challenge concludes on Saturday. They already have sports activities and programmes anyway but the additional fitness activities would give more options to students, teachers, and staff.
“During the DFC, we saw enormous enthusiasm and excitement. The staff looked forward to the action-packed sessions breaking the everyday monotony at work. Post DFC, we will definitely want to keep it going for our students and staff as well,” Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of IHS, said.
GEMS Dubai American Academy will keep the intramurals running all year, along with new after-school activities starting in January, Murphy said.