Adela Green sees students, in between classes at Hollenbeck Middle School, munching Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and slurping caffeinated energy drinks.
Changing unhealthy eating habits is one topic she has emphasized for a decade as a physical education teacher. Still, she finds many teens struggle to curb their appetites, say, with carrot sticks instead of potato chips.
So, as a prime antidote to unhealthy lifestyles, she focuses more on fun. This year, she coordinates the intramural sports program, an activity growing in popularity at the East Los Angeles school. For instance, 40 students recently signed up to compete in dodgeball. The last basketball tournament included 23 teams.
“I love to see my kids excited about playing,” Adela said.
Students can play soccer and other familiar sports, along with lesser-known but still strenuous options, like lacrosse, ultimate frisbee or even line dancing. Sometimes, students seem hesitant playing unfamiliar sports, but their tepidness soon turns into thrills.
The intramural program succeeds, in part, through her planning and enthusiasm. Those elements were embedded in her genes. She helped her mother, who spent a career as an elementary school teacher, plan classroom lessons and activities.
The sports program’s success has broad effect. At lunchtime, hundreds of students gather to watch their classmates compete, and makes them more willing to participate. As they do, the school’s culture tilts—one student at a time—toward healthier living.
“Ms. Green’s impact surely goes beyond her classroom,” a colleague said of Adela. “Her work, dedication and talents help make Hollenbeck Middle school a great place for students.”
- Vanessa Lozano
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