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Shasta 4th graders kick off Exercise Across California
After the entertaining and informational presentation inside the Shasta School Gym, students put to good use the complimentary jump ropes they received to enjoy an energetic exercise outside. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Shasta School fourth grader Gabby Curutchet was jazzed.

“I feel excited!” she said, a little out of breath but excited, after doing the hula-hoop on stage inside the school gym.

She was one of the few lucky students who were picked by members of the Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Program who was at the school Wednesday morning to officially kick-off the 2012-13 Exercise Across California Program.

Shasta School was one of the 15 participating schools in San Joaquin County where fourth and fifth graders were “challenged to walk, skip, run, or jump 2,126 miles, the distance around the State of California,” according to the information provided by the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

The interactive performance by the Kaiser theatrical group was part of the kick-off celebration for this year’s Exercise Across California Program.

After the program in the school gym, the fourth graders received complimentary jump ropes from Kaiser which they at once put to energetic good use outdoors in the unseasonal sunny weather, jumping ropes with school district staff member Tevani Liotard giving some exercise tips to some of the exercise-challenged students.

The purpose of the fitness program called Exercise Across California and launched in 2009, is to “motivate children to be active and healthy.” The program was initiated through the joint efforts of the San Joaquin County Office of Education and Kaiser Permanente.

The challenge for the students is to exercise 2,126 miles which is the distance around California. The fitness program takes place Nov. 5 to March 31, with the participating students taking a virtual visit to the 13 historic California landmarks along their statewide exercise journey.

The students are also encouraged to improve their physical fitness “above school requirements through new P.E. equipment and pedometers for each student to track their progress.”

At the conclusion of the program in March, three students will be picked from each participating school who will have the opportunity to tour one of the historical landmarks that they learned about throughout the program, the Golden Gate Bridge and attend a Giants game.

Funding for Exercise Across California is through the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program Grant. Also a part of this collaborative effort is the UC Davis Cooperative Extension and Network for a Healthy California with their Power Play nutritional program.

Participating schools in the exercise program will also receive fresh produce every month from the Harvest of the Month program.

At the conclusion of the program, participating students will receive a certificate medal of completion. Each of the participating schools likewise will receive $1,500 to purchase P.E. equipment.