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School Leaders Create Wellness Center For Teachers

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Healthy teachers plus healthy students equal healthy schools. It's an equation city school leaders have found the answer in a new wellness center for teachers.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the new center is a gift from a Baltimore development firm that could attract more teachers to the city.

A heavy rope workout that includes squats with dumbbells and maybe even a weighted ball routine is the kind of exercise that crushes stress, builds muscle and keeps a teacher fit enough to brave the next day in class. That's the goal of the new Wellness Center that opened at Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School in south Baltimore. It's a gift from War Horse, a Baltimore-based development firm.

Scott Plank is its founder; he says teachers are the students' first role model.

"It's very, very important that our role models have the tools to be role models for a healthy lifestyle. Certainly it's a gym, but it's much more than a gym," Plank said.

City school leaders say national studies show healthy teachers are in the class more because they take fewer sick days and are able to reduce stress, obesity and even cardiovascular disease.

"A couple of months ago, the AFT conducted an online survey for our members and we found---very alarming---seven out of every 10 respondents said they often feel their work is stressful," said Dr. Loretta Johnson, American Federation of Teachers.

Teachers say with a busy 7-3 or 8-4 schedule, getting to the gym isn't high on their to do list. Now they don't have to go far to complete their workout.

"This is what I know about teachers: they don't go home when the children go home. They're here. I'm suggesting they work out and go right back to work," said City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton.

War Horse says the Wellness Center at Francis Scott Key is a pilot program. If it works well, they want to put more in other city schools.

War Horse has also redesigned the school's teacher break-room, so they eat healthy, as well.

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