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‘Kitsap Gets Active’ honors Cottonwood PE teacher

Gail Demo Smith recognized by the Kitsap County Board of Health.

Cottonwood Elementary School physical education teacher Gail Demo Smith was recognized Tuesday by the Kitsap County Board of Health for her role in getting students active and fit.

“Obesity has become an epidemic these days,” North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer said. “The work you do is necessary and we can tell you love it.”

Kitsap Gets Active, a coalition promoting physical activity and nutrition in Kitsap County, honored Smith with the 2009 Kitsap Gets Active Award.

Smith said she continues to enjoy her role as a PE teacher after more than 30 years in her job.

“It is mostly about motivation,” she said. “Making them want to do it.”

Smith was recognized for her energetic and longtime leadership engaging students and their families to achieve healthy and active lifestyles.

“Fitness is not just a school activity,” she said. “It is a life activity.”

Her philosophy has been to challenge kids to progress toward lifelong fitness, no matter what fitness level they are in when they start.

“It isn’t enough for them to just exercise now,” she said. “We want them to build healthy habits they will take with them the rest of their lives.”

Smith has worked with families, school staff and colleagues across CKSD to encourage them to adopt positive fitness programs. She also has worked to equip her school with safe and innovative playground equipment and has organized numerous after-school clubs and events.

She uses class time to introduce less conventional equipment such as unicycles and jump ropes to help students have fun while gaining individual fitness.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be boring,” she said. “I encourage them to get active in any way that gets them excited.”

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