Sidney elementary school promotes physical, mental wellness among students

SIDNEY, NE — Instead of focusing on school work Friday, students at Sidney’s West Elementary got to focus on themselves instead.

"This has been a phenomenal day," West Elementary principal Gene Russel said. "We've had a lot of students really excited."

The 5th and 6th grade school hosted a Health and Wellness Day as the school year begins to wind down. West Elementary Principal Gene Russel says it’s not just for physical health.

"When we're trying to teach the kiddos about wellness, I think the first thing they always think about is how strong you are," Russel said. "I think a lot of research has now come down the pipeline about how important social, emotional is."

Kids participated a variety of events from obstacle courses to making stress balls and art to mixing their own smoothies by powering a blender with a bicycle.

"We had this plan that if and when we would get the green light to have community members come in, we would have a wellness day because our community really really needs, especially in the times of the pandemic, as educators, we see the effects it has on our students."  Russel said. 

Staff at the school wanted to give kids a day of fun that was still educational. It was a way to try to make up for the lack of field trips this year due to COVID-19.

"It feels pretty good because we didn't get to go to the Denver Museum I think it was two weeks ago," sixth grader Kyle said.

Kyle, a sixth grader at the school said he enjoyed Crossfit the most. He’s happy to have gotten away from the traditional classroom setting for a day.

"I'd say its pretty fun to do school depending on what subject it is, but it's good to get a break every once in a while," Kyle said.

Russel says the day wouldn’t have been possible without community volunteers. He encourages everyone to use the same resources they did to stay on top of their health.

"There's just a vast amount of resources that I don't think the community doesn't really realize we have here to be able to treat any sort of physical mental wellness as well as social or emotional wellness issues," he said.