WV Schools to Dance Obesity Away
Dance Dance Revolution has become a cult favorite in local arcades and on beach boardwalks, but it will soon have a new home in West Virginia public schools. The state, which holds the unfortunate title of one of the fattest in America, hopes it will encourage students to start exercising.
A test program was successful in 20 schools last spring. The state's 157 middle schools will be the first to get the game, with hopes that all 753 public schools would have Dance Dance Revolution in use by 2008.
School officials say that it is not meant to replace gym or health classes, but they hope it reaches those that may dislike those activities.
According to Linda Carson, a researcher with West Virginia University's School of Physical Education who is looking into the possible health benefits of the game, reaching kids early on through physical activities can promote healthy lifestyles later.
The early teenage years are "when children really begin making more of their own decisions and a time when they could easily choose to be more sedentary," she told the Associated Press.
According to the Institute of Medicine, as many as 46 percent of fifth grade students in West Virginia were considered overweight in a six year study that ended last year. As many as one out of every three children in the state today will develop diabetes, the group said.
The project will cost the state about a half-million dollars, with each school receiving a game console, two or more dance pads and the software. Each system would cost about $740. Konami, maker of the game, has agreed to donate $75,000. PEIA and Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield have also said they would donate money to the project.