Olympic athlete visits local schools, motivates students to live healthy

Credit: Ryan Hilliard/KTVB

Olympic athlete visits local schools, motivates students to live healthy

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by Bonnie Shelton

Bio | Email | Follow: @BonnieKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 9:18 AM

BOISE -- It's not every day you see an Olympic gold medalist getting sweaty with a group of sixth graders, but that's exactly what happened at Amity Elementary School in Boise on Wednesday.

Track and field star Ashton Eaton won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 2012 Olympic games in London. He also holds the world record for points scored in the decathlon, which is made up 10 track and field events.

He's now featured in a classroom game called "GoNoodle" that gets students out of their chairs and moving for short breaks during the day.

"This is a big step ahead of compared to what I did in middle school," said Eaton of the game.

In each "GoNoodle" event, Olympic athletes show students skills and techniques that can be completed while standing next to a desk.

"Being able to bring it into the classroom so that these kids have the opportunity to try something new and expend that energy I think is a big deal," said Eaton.

Leaders at Saint Alphonsus Medical Group said the classroom program is making an impact.

"We were looking for ways that we could combat childhood obesity. Blue Cross of Idaho has the same mission," said Linda Payne Smith, Vice President of Marketing and Community Development for Saint Alphonsus. "Kids get active in the classroom for very short periods of time at their desk and it's exciting because it's with Olympic athletes on the screen."

Students told us the games are fun and have opened their eyes to new sports and activities.

"The javelin. I've always thought like, I don't think I would be able to do that, but it seems like it would be fun," said Isaac Niederer, a student at Amity Elementary.

"I was hot. I was sweating," said Eaton after playing some of the games with students. He added that becoming a world-class athlete takes a lot of hard work and determination.

"I was not a good athlete overnight, it took years and years and years," said Eaton, adding he's living proof a commitment to healthy living can lead to success.

"You can do anything you really want to do," said Eaton.

Leaders at Saint Alphonsus told us the program has been a welcome addition in the Boise School District. Students there have logged 6,800 minutes of activity using "GoNoodle" in just a month.

Saint Alphonsus and Blue Cross of Idaho are now teaming up to give the games to all southern Idaho schools for free.

Ashton Eaton visited several other Treasure Valley schools to motivate students on Wednesday. He told us after winning a world championship in the decathlon, he now has his sights set on the 2016 Olympic games.

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