Douglas County elementary schools are taking steps to help fight child obesity, an epidemic that nationwide has put the lives of 9 million children in danger.
The schools have a Get Moving! program, which encourages students to eat a healthy diet and to exercise outside of the schools' physical education classes.
"It doesn't have to be organized," said Sandra Walker, a Hillcrest School physical education teacher. "It doesn't have to be paid for. You just go do something together."
Students are encouraged to fill out a Get Moving! card, which represents 12 hours and 30 minutes of exercise. After the fourth card, they receive a free pool pass to the Lawrence Indoor or Outdoor Aquatic Center or a bowling pass.
"I like being rewarded for exercising and being active," said Halle Haas, a Hillcrest fifth-grader.
Monica Carvhaao, also a Hillcrest fifth-grader, said she enjoys gymnastics, walking and riding her bicycle. She even has motivated her parents to exercise with her.
"When we went riding bikes, they went with me, and when we went walking," she said.
The Get Moving! program started at Wakarusa Valley School and was expanded to all Lawrence elementary schools in 2001. Eudora and Baldwin City schools joined the program in 2005, and Lawrence Catholic schools joined last year.