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Sutter County students more fit than those in Yuba County
Students in Sutter County are stronger, more flexible and have better aerobic capacity than youths in Yuba County, state physical fitness test scores indicate.
The percentage of Sutter County students in the healthy fitness zone tops Yuba County for all six separate measurements of fitness.
Maya Choice, 14, a first-year student at Yuba City High School, where she is also a cheerleader, said Monday as she participated in a PE class that technology can take its toll on the health of youths.
"The only thing I go on is Facebook," she said. "And that's for 10 minutes."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who as a high school teacher coached track and cross country, connected fitness with success in school classrooms. "Study after study has demonstrated the very clear link between physical fitness and academic achievement," he said when the state released the results this month of 1.3 million tests taken by fifth, seventh and ninth graders in California. Sutter County exceeds the state fitness average for students, while Yuba County slightly trails it.
Chris Macon, an adaptive PE teacher in the Yuba City Unified School District, said its scores reflect a focus on fitness.
"It's become a priority in our district," Macon said.
Yuba City may benefit from its municipal parks and recreation department which serves up to 45,000 youths yearly, said department director Brad McIntire.
"If you have a child between the ages of 6 to 14, you can pretty much be doing something through the year," he said.
Trish Lucich, who heads the PE department at Yuba City High, said of the test results that "I like that the numbers are going in the right way."
The figures come in a new world for youths that rarely includes the football and baseball games once played in public parks, she said. Students who used to measure their accomplishment in sports now brag about who beat who in video games, Lucich said.
Frank Crawford, a trustee for the Marysville Joint Unified School District, laments of students that "so much of their time is spent on laptops and cellphones."
A new video game the University of California, Davis, is developing intends to encourage youths to log miles walked and calories burned in the real world apart from video games. The gamer's body is linked to the strength of the avatar characters in the video game.
Cynthia Carter Ching, a School of Education professor, said the effort aims to leverage the motivation youths can get from games to boost their health. Video games fill a gap in students' lives, Ching added, and new technology is often cast as the villain for problems.
"People blamed the printing press for radical social changes," she said.
Ching said family incomes also affect fitness. An unfortunate confluence faces residents in low income areas where it may be unsafe for youths to play outside and access to healthy food is harder, she noted.
Yuba City High PE teacher Jim Stassi said instilling discipline is important if students are to be physically fit. He also tells students that after they graduate they may pay health clubs for workouts.
"You're getting it for free," Stassi says of PE classes.
PE teacher Macon also coaches football at Sutter High School, which does well in the tests. That success reflects the standards at the school, he said.
"When you go inside, you take your hat off," he said, adding, "You don't wear a hat backwards at Sutter High."
Hannah Kircher, a first-year student at Yuba City High, where she plays basketball and soccer, said joining a team sport teaches youths responsibility — including getting to practice.
"It also teaches them it's fun to run," Kircher said.