Dance Dance Revolution Hits School Gym Classes

Obese kids to shed pounds playing videogame

Posted by Staff
Here?s a great story to kick off a Monday morning ? a videogame is being used productively by the US education system, in order to improve pupils' general levels of fitness and help them maintain a healthy diet.

Every one of West Virginia?s 765 public schools is set to incorporate Konami?s popular Dance Dance Revolution into their curriculum in an attempt to combat the state?s growing problem of childhood obesity, according to a report in the Financial Times this morning.

The plan is to roll out the pioneering scheme across 103 of West Virginia?s junior and middle schools over the next couple of months, and then move it into all the high schools and elementary schools.

West Virginia has a sizeable (sorry, couldn't resist) problem with obesity, with over 62% of the state?s population officially obese and 28% of children from low-income families overweight, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

SPOnG is a big fan of Dance Dance Revolution and thinks this is a superb idea for making gym classes more appealing to overweight and unhealthy kids ? exactly the kind of kids who skip gym class. And also exactly the kind of kids who are not likely to enjoy competitive sports and far more likely to want to play a videogame.

SPOnG has shameful memories of skipping our own Physical Education classes at school for this very reason ? i.e., playing Gauntlet at the local arcade was far more fun than having some oaf jump on your head on the rugby pitch.

DDR, as you will know, has a workout mode, which allows players to track the number of calories they burn off each session. Perhaps the next step would be to get Jamie Oliver over the pond, to help West Virginia's schools sort out their cafeterias ? SPOnG suggests that banning burgers and introducing a strict Japanese diet of sushi and rice might do the trick.

Nidia Henderson, who is the Wellness Director of the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, commented on the scheme saying she hoped it would help those who live in "...even the most rugged terrain an opportunity for physical activity".

If you re-read that sentence and replace ?the most rugged terrain? with ?the most run-down trailer park? you will probably get a better idea of what Ms Henderson is trying to say.

SPOnG applauds the idea of using dance mat games in schools as it can only succeed in making regular physical exercise more appealing to exactly those pupils who need it most, yet are most likely to skip it. Let us know what you think in the forums below.


Joji 31 Jan 2006 00:51
Hey Spong crew, it may seem strange but I suggested this very idea on a previous DDR related post (check my posts if you need to). Get those DDR machines in schools across the america and the u.k too. Hope you are listening Mr Blair.

Not only will it solve truancy to a degree (kids will have an incentive to come to school) but it will help them loose that puppy fat than loaded up at McD's.

Better still perhaps they should have them in or near fast food restuarants too.

It's like I said before, exercise is boring unless you make it fun and interesting. DDR is the key to fun and keeping the interest. Add competitions for stuff, in or between different schools and something special will be really happening.

Konami, you genius like sneaky foxes. Thanks for trying.

Next stop hopefully u.k gyms and schools too.

Lastly you speak of the efforts of Jamie Oliver, who's had some great press in the u.s because of what he has done for school meals in the u.k. I think he might well be about to try the same thing in the u.s too at some point (correct me if I'm wrong on this info), god knows they need some help.

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