Elementary school does Michelle Obama 'Gimme Five' challenge

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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) — They danced, then they danced some more.

The entire student body— about 350 students —and staff at Hillside Elementary School shot video of a choreographed dance routine on Friday, taking part in first lady Michelle Obama's #GimmeFive Challenge, championed by "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in March.

DeGeneres and Obama danced to the hit song "Uptown Funk" on the show; Hillside students and staffers chose the same song and hope to be recognized by DeGeneres' show for their fitness effort.

"Dancing is really fun to do," first-grader Olivia Kuemmerle-Loy told The Courier-Post (http://on.cpsj.com/1cBnRRD ) of Cherry Hill after doing the 60-second routine several times.

Said third-grader Leniah Purnell: "It was really fun that we got to do this dance. We've been practicing for weeks."

Obama's #GimmeFive Challenge is part of her Let's Move! Initiative, which seeks to promote active, healthy lifestyles and combat childhood obesity.

The children were already dancing most days for exercise, so why not shoot a video and post it to DeGeneres' website, thought Hillside physical education teacher Donna Ingham when she saw the show.

"Our school theme this year has been, 'Get active' to kind of encourage the kids to get away from screen time, video games, and to move a little bit more," Ingham said. "Throughout the day we do brain breaks where the kids get up, they move a little bit, get their blood flowing to their brain. Physical activity has been known to improve academics.

"It was perfect. I know First Lady Obama's theme is 'Let's move.' It went hand in hand."

Ingham said teaching assistant Monica Leon-Guerrero leads the kids in dance each Friday, so Ingham tapped "L.G." to assist with the whole effort.

"We're co-founders of this dance routine," Ingham said. "We do a dance Friday morning when the kids come in to wake them up for the day. We just incorporated this. I talked to my principal and she thought it'd be a great idea to throw it all in together as a school-wide event."

When the children, clad in blue-and-gold Hillside t-shirts, were cued up, Ingham told them to "bring it" before the video camera rolled— and they began to dance their little hearts out.

Principal Mary Fitzgerald even participated in the dance routine and got into the whole thing with everyone else.

"This was the brainchild of my P.E. teacher Donna Ingham," said Fitzgerald. "She had seen it on Ellen with Michelle Obama and Ellen. I think they challenged schools or people to come and do this Uptown Funk dance. Our theme for this year at Hillside is 'Get Active', so it fell right in line with our theme. We do a lot of dancing with our kids every morning before they come into the classroom to kind of get them ready for school."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. In 2012, nearly 1/3 of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Dancing is good way to combat that.

"It was a great thing for kids to help them stay active and fit," third grade teacher Melissa Winkel said. "What a great way to do that and try to get on The Ellen Show. The kids had a great time practicing. It's a great way to exercise."

"I love it," school librarian Susan Eley said. "Our 'Get Active' theme this year has been a lot of fun. I love the Ellen Show and I love to dance. I even have a 'Get Moving' club in the library this year, so it goes right along with that."


Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), http://www.courierpostonline.com/

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