Former FHS cheerleader wins award for improving co-workers’ health

One former Frenship High School cheerleader recently won an award for leading her co-workers in improving their health.

Kayci Smith is in her eighth year as a teacher for the Frenship Independent School District. Last year, she was asked to add to her duties the roles of FHS varsity cheer sponsor and district wellness coordinator.

Smith said the wellness position was held previously by someone at the district’s central office. But she said Jason Gossett, FISD’s director of business services, told her the district wanted to get a teacher outside of the central office involved.

Because she got another position as the cheerleader sponsor on the first day of school, she said she stuck with the previous format of the wellness job during the fall semester.

During the spring semester, she aimed a little higher. Asking questions of her fellow teachers, she found they wanted a goal-oriented program and might want to have structured times to work out together after school.

Smith, who had twins recently, found many of her friends wanted to run five- and 10-kilometer marathons.

“I thought, if someone could teach me how to walk a five-K, I’d walk it. Because I’m not a runner,” said Smith with a laugh.

So she came up with a six-week challenge to participate in campus-level workouts, training for the ultimate goal of participating in a run/walk at Peoples Bank Stadium.

She also hit upon the ultimate reward for participation: blue jeans.

“So many teachers would come and say, ‘What do I have to do to wear these jeans?’ ” said Smith. As it turns out, teachers will do just about anything to wear jeans to school, and walking or running five kilometers is an easy price to pay.

About 80 percent of the district participated. Reese Center led the campuses with 98 percent of staffers participating.

One cold Saturday morning in April, about 250 people participated in a five- and 10-kilometer walk and run.

Smith said she was surprised so many people embraced the idea.

“I was very concerned that it wouldn’t take, because it was a brand new thing,” she said. Many co-workers told her that they enjoyed a little activity in a more social setting, and some told her they made new connections with their co-workers because of the workouts.

Because of her work to get FISD employees involved, she was named the new wellness coordinator of the year for the South Plains School Workers Compensation Program.

For the coming year, she hopes to work in a dodge ball competition, dance lessons and perhaps a dance-a-thon.

Smith said the point of wellness is to incorporate it into everyday life. She doesn’t want people to just be involved for three weeks in fall and six weeks in spring, but year-round. To meet that goal, she said, activities should be fun and easy.

“We want to set the goal now and encourage people to do it after school,” she said, noting she will encourage campuses to set up workout times throughout the year.

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