EAST helps secure $100,000 for Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary


EAST helps secure $100,000 for Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary
10/6/2015 11:25:15 AM

Oct. 6, 2015 | With contributions from the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program, the Little Rock School District’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interdistrict Magnet Elementary School was selected as one of three schools in the state to receive a national grant to install new exercise equipment.

A video scripted by and featuring EAST students was part of the grant application and ultimately helped secure the $100,000 National Champion School Fitness Center Grant, sponsored by Jake Steinfeld, chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, and privately funded by Coca-Cola, the Anthem Foundation and Nike, among others.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Steinfeld visited the school today to help celebrate the opening of the state-of-the-art Live Positively Fitness Center with a ribbon cutting.

“EAST students are proud to have been a part of the effort to get this grant, because it’s not just something that’s going to benefit today’s students. It is equipment that will continue to be used and be part of addressing our school community’s needs for years to come,” said Peggy Nakamoto, facilitator of the MLK EAST program.

The student-scripted video, which featured two EAST students struggling with the broken workout equipment in the school’s makeshift gym on the second floor of its media center, was combined with research by MLK Principal Karen Carter analyzing rates of obesity among students and the percentage of students on free and reduced lunches, as well as a proposal on where the new equipment would be located if awarded.

The project, undertaken at the end of last school year, capped a series of fitness-oriented projects for Nakamoto’s EAST classes, who spent hours studying Photoshop and video editing and collaborated via Google Docs to share work between classes.

One project, “Just Like a Girl,” was inspired by a Dove Commercial. Members of this group created a video featuring students Antoinette Williams, Jordan Harris, Joshua Thrower and Alisia McGhee to inspire girls to exercise with strength and power. Tyra Robinson, another member of that group, worked with first grade teacher Thoma Thacker to enlist students to sign up for the Little Rockers Marathon, securing a scholarship to assist with registering marathon participants. On Feb. 28, with temperatures below freezing, approximately 20 students from MLK participated in the Little Rockers Marathon for the first time – with many teachers and parents there to cheer them as they completed the race.

It wasn’t until school was about to start again in August that Carter received the news that MLK, along with Lincoln Middle School and SC Tucker Elementary, were awarded the gym equipment and named Arkansas’s most outstanding schools for demonstrating new and innovative ways for promoting physical activity and wellness. The new equipment began to arrive in September.

“This honor came with many outside resources helping MLK,” said Nakamoto. “We look forward to this year and upcoming school years to see how EAST students embrace our new gym and incorporate this into their future projects.” 


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