WOMELSDORF – Some fourth-graders at Conrad Weiser West Elementary School love their new chairs – probably because they’re not really chairs at all.
The kids are sitting on stability balls, the air-filled, resin balls often used for exercising. But unlike the exercise variety, these have small legs that keep them from rolling.
According to WittFitt, a Wisconsin-based company that has supplied stability balls to more than 200 schools, they can lead to improvements in posture, handwriting and classroom behavior for students with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“If somebody has proper posture, their blood flows better,” said Lisa N. Witt, a former teacher who runs WittFitt. “If more blood’s going to your brain, it takes more oxygen, which tends to make you more alert.”
Exercise-ball chairs are gaining popularity in classrooms, from preschool to college. Some adults even use them at work.
At the elementary school in Womelsdorf, about 10 miles east of Lebanon and 10 miles west of Reading, a total of 40 students in teacher Annette J. Wall’s class and a learning-support class have been using the stability balls for about two months.
Wall got the idea after seeing them featured on a television show.
“I said, kind of jokingly, ‘I should get those for my kids,'” she recalled.
Wall talked to school nurse Beverly Yoder, who helped the school obtain a $1,600 federal grant meant to encourage health and good nutrition for children.
The school used the money to buy the stability balls, which sell for $23 to $32, and learn how to use them.
Students are expected to follow seven rules, including keeping their feet on the floor and making sure the inflated devices are safe from sharp objects.
Between classroom activities, students keep their minds fresh by doing exercises such as bouncing on the balls or pretending to box.