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Three-year effort at William Tell Elementary will encourage students to adopt healthy habits
TELL CITY - A three-year wellness grant awarded to William Tell Elementary School will prod students and their teachers to lead healthier, longer lives through regular exercise, better nutrition, health education and disease prevention.
Welborn Baptist Foundation will give the school $129,000 over three years as part of the organization's emphasis on reducing the number of young people who are overweight or obese.
The grant will also fund a part-time wellness coordinator and money for equipment, incentives for students and health fairs for staff and families. Other funds will be used for a health newsletter, professional development for teachers and health videos and other wellness materials.
"With the fantastic support of the Welborn Foundation, we're going to promote lifelong health and wellness in our students so they form those healthy habits that will help them the rest of the lives," Principal Laura Noble said last week after joining students in a walk from the Tell City-Perry County Public Library to the school.
Chris Page will serve as the wellness coordinator and she said a major goal of the school's efforts is to promote exercise and nutrition, major tools in the battle against childhood obesity. Studies show overweight children are more likely to be obese as adults and to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
To help kick off the grant this semester, students will be encouraged to try new foods, and to take a second look at vegetables and fruits they might leave on their lunch trays. Last week's menu, for example, included burgers on healthier wheat buns, tomato soup, sliced peaches and fresh veggies. Students were also given stickers for trying those foods and small incentives will continue under the grant.
"It's important to make it fun and to encourage them to try new foods," Page said.
The first year of the grant will also introduce students to a Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids physical-education program designed to boost the amount of time students are engaged in vigorous physical activity.
To promote a walking club, students will have the chance to obtain pedometers to measure how far they are walking each day, and water bottles will encourage William Tell's students to drink more water instead of less-healthy liquids. The program will also encourage healthier foods for school fundraisers and class parties, Page said.
The activities funded by the Welborn grant support Tell City-Troy Township's overall wellness plan.
Since adults also need encouragement in living healthier, a health fair for school staff will offer information and diagnostic tests for cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat. A separate health fair will be offered to families of students.
The school is also raising funds for a new walking trail that will traverse the school grounds, giving students and the public an opportunity to stretch their legs. With a new sidewalk being built next year to connect the public library with the school, Noble said the trail will provide another walking option.
The sidewalk will be built with a grant awarded Tell City and municipal and school leaders hope more parents will allow their kids to walk to school under the supervision of volunteers.
Tell City is also hoping to obtain grant funding from the Indiana Department of Transportation to extend the sidewalk from the library to 19th Street and a new greenway along Windy Creek that was completed this summer.