Wellcats for Life PEP Grant 

May 2017: The Wellcats for Life PEP Grant serves approximately 1,800 K-12 students in the Depew Union Free School District (DUFSD) outside of Buffalo, New York.

Wellcats for Life allowed for the creation of new, state of the art fitness/wellness centers in all three district buildings. Each center was outfitted with a 21’ TRX, several pieces of cardio equipment, and age-appropriate weight training and fitness items. Our largest center, at Depew High School, is fully equipped with the LF Connect fitness tracker and QR codes on all cardiovascular and selectorized equipment. These features allow students not only to log their workouts, but also to submit them to their teachers or to enter them into their physical fitness plans in their PE classes. 

The center was even featured on our local ABC affiliate, 7 Eyewitness News, during their recent fitness week. Watch the news clip here.

Our high school fitness center also allows DUFSD to provide increased opportunities for our students to be physically active before, during, and after the school day. The center is open to all students in grades 6-12 before school (6:00am-7:30am), after school (2:30pm-7:30pm), on Saturdays (8:00am-12:00pm), and during school hours if they have a scheduled lunch or study hall period.

In addition to our new fitness/wellness centers, students also have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of intramural activities. While we continue to offer traditional intramurals, such as team and individual sports, Wellcats for Life has allowed us to expand offerings for our students. For example, we now offer the Wildcats on the Move Running Club, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, aquatics, and various group fitness classes.

While the new fitness/wellness centers will help to enhance our current Physical Education and Health Education programs, Wellcats for Life has provided DUFSD with an opportunity to update our curriculum to better align with both state and national standards. To date, we have attended both the National SHAPE Conference and the NYS AHPERD Conference, infused the CATCH Nutrition Program K-8, and integrated the SPARK curriculum K-5.

In order to successfully meet the physical activity needs of our students during the summer months, DUFSD has partnered with Depew Recreation to create the Wellcats for Life Summer Day Camp. Open to all current DUFSD students entering grades 1-8, this free four week day camp will employ four current Depew PE teachers. Participants will be involved in a variety of daily activities, such as sports, lifetime activities, cooperative games, fun & games, aquatics, and arts & crafts.

Moving forward, we plan to purchase 3-5 class sets of HR monitors for use in our K-12 PE classes as well as snowshoes for our elementary and middle schools. 

U.S. Department of Education Carol M. White Physical Education (PEP) grant

September 2016: Depew Union Free School District is the recipient of a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education Carol M. White Physical Education (PEP) grant. This is a three-year program which the district has named “WellCats for Life”.

According to Susan Frey, Depew’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, “The Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) is designed to reflect best practices and research for improving children’s and adolescents’ health and fitness. The overall goal is to encourage physical activity, healthy eating and to meet the state standards for physical education. The primary focus of the PEP grant is to develop high-quality physical and health education programs and an environment supportive of physical activity.”

In Depew, the plan includes creating and/or upgrading a fitness center at each of the three schools. The centers will be outfitted with state-of-the-art treadmills, exercise bicycles, heart rate monitoring systems, upgraded weight training equipment and gaming consoles of adventure and fitness/dance games. Other instructional supplies that the grant will purchase include cross country skis, BOSU packs, snowshoes, updated health and physical education curriculum materials as well as ongoing training for staff to attend national, state and local conferences.

The “WellCats for Life” program will transform the district’s nutritional, physical education and health curriculums. The grant aims to achieve goals by September 2019 that focus on improving the overall health and fitness of students from kindergarten through grade 12 by increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables students consume and increasing the number of minutes that students engage in physical activity to 60 minutes daily.

Stacy Ribbeck has been appointed as the Carole White PEP Grant Coordinator. She will work with all our district physical education/health staff, administration, athletics and community partners to facilitate all the goals and objectives of the grant. She will be sharing monthly updates of grant progress on our district website to keep everyone informed.

The school district has entered into several community partnerships for this PEP grant, as a collaborative approach to achieve the overall goals of the grant. Depew’s partners include the Village of Depew, YMCA of Buffalo and Niagara, Erie County Department of Health, Lancaster/Depew Boys and Girls Club, United Way of Buffalo and Niagara County and Independent Health.