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Pine Haven students enjoy Radio Disney dance off

PEMBROKE - Students at Pine Haven Boys Center shared their moves with members of Radio Disney's Rockin' Road Crew at a dance off Friday as a reward for finishing in the top five of the "Get Active, Get Fit" statewide fitness competition.

The program is designed to motivate kids and families to develop fitness habits early on through engaging in fun activities.

"Overall, it's about getting kids exercising earlier, and hopefully making them healthier adults," said Christopher Dugan, director of corporate communications at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, state sponsor of the program. "So they make better decisions, so there's a component of exercise, better eating, and of course dancing is a fun part of that. So what's cool about these parties is that incorporates all of that."

From October through November of 2012, students were asked to exercise for a certain amount of time every day, with the schools being graded by their participation levels.

The Pine Haven Center saw 100 percent participation. In addition to the dance off, the school won a donation of gym equipment.

All that work seemed to pay off Friday. The students shared the gym with the three Radio Disney Rockin' Road crew members in an hour-long dance off, sometimes competing for prizes like water bottles, sometimes building a dance collectively, with one student at a time offering their own move. The teachers were even asked to take part in the frolic, with the students serving as the final judge on their skills.

For the organizers, however, the dance off is not just a prize, but an extension of the entire project - making fitness fun.

"It's really a culmination of what they decided to do," said Dugan.

State and nationwide, Dugan saw the program as a success simply for the amount of participation it saw this year.

"While not every school won, the fact that all those schools did it and all those kids participated is really neat," he said. "People will tell you over and over again that if kids pick up these habits early on and get into exercises by making it fun, hopefully they be healthy teenagers and healthy adults."

More than 10,000 students from 39 New Hampshire elementary schools participated in the program.

Nationwide, about 384,000 children were involved in the initiative, including students from NH, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin Other schools finishing in the top five this year included the Westmorland School, Sandown Central School, Grinnell Elementary School in Derry, and the Errol Consolidated Elementary School.

Pine Haven Boys Center is a private, non-profit and non-sectarian intensive residential facility, caring for boys with educational, behavioral or emotional problems.

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