Students at one Bayside elementary school are staying fit while also helping to save lives.
Since the beginning of March, 268 students, 40 teachers and other faculty members at P.S. 41, located at 214-43 35th Ave., have been taking part in UNICEF’s Kid Power program which encourages students to be more active, while also feeding children in Africa.
During the program, the students wear Kid Power Bands, which measure their steps and unlock Kid Power Points, which are later converted to funds that go toward food packets.
At P.S. 41, which is one of 16 New York City schools participating in the program, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students take part in the challenge and have been racking up points.
“The essence of it is that the more that they exercise and the more that they’re active, the more packets are being sent to children to eat,” said Sari Latto, principal at P.S. 41. “It’s a win-win. We get healthier children, and those [other] children can live because they are being fed. So the kids are very excited about it.”
Before receiving their blue power bands, the students learned about the program. They received lessons on poverty conditions in other countries, saw a video of malnourished children and the conditions they live in, and were told the importance of them receiving the food.
Each student was then given a band to wear on his or her wrist, and teachers were provided with tablets that sync with the bands to tally up points for the classes.
“It’s extraordinary. The children are excited about moving more and being healthy, they recognize the value of that, they feel better, they like it,” Latto said. “They are realizing that, as young as they are, they are able to do something for other children in the world so that they can live. And that’s a very empowering feeling for a child.”
Out of the classes participating from P.S. 41, one third-grade class has stood out with a total of 4,503,745 steps, equaling 769 food packets, as of Monday.
With their numbers, Class 3205, taught by Cindy Wong and Helen Kim, reached the highest points in all of the city schools and won a trip to see the New York Knicks practice later in April.
“It’s wonderful and very exciting for us and it’s great that we’re able, through this organization, to teach them how to do good now and in the future,” Wong said. “It’s motivating a lot of them to keep active.”
To get the points, the students have done sports such as soccer and basketball, danced in Zumba classes, and also taken part in gym activities.
For the third-grade students participating in the program, it is more than just taking home the grand prize; they also want to make a difference.
“It’s not just about winning in the city, it’s actually about helping more kids,” said 8-year-old Oliver.
His classmate, 9-year-old Cian, also said that even though it’s great that the class was the top in the city and will be able to see the Knicks, the important part was knowing they helped feed the children in Africa.
“It’s really good just to help out children,” he said.