Paulding School’s Nutrition, Fitness Efforts Earn State Childhood Obesity Funding
Second-graders ran and kicked rubber balls around New Georgia Elementary’s gym on a recent school day.
Their teacher is hoping thousands in state money will give future students a variety of new ways to stay physically fit and nutritionally sound.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s childhood obesity initiative, called Georgia Shape, recently awarded a $3,000 school health grant to New Georgia Elementary School as part of grants to 26 schools totaling $116,000 for the 2017-2018 school year.
The funding “is intended to empower schools to implement activities that promote lifelong healthy behaviors, many of which combat obesity and mitigate other chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” a news release stated.
Grantees are awarded a $3,000 core grant to focus on nutrition or a $5,000 enhanced grant which provides funding for both nutrition and physical activity programs.
With its $3,000 award, New Georgia physical education teacher Marty Carter said he plans to focus on nutrition and fitness. He said the school will offer smoothie bites to the students, and is working with an area hospital to create an exhibit designed for children to learn about good nutrition.
He said the school is working to secure the $5,000 enhanced grant to allow it to buy and upgrade fitness equipment both on its outdoor playground and indoor gym.
Carter, a product of Paulding County schools, is in his second year at New Georgia but in his 16th year as a teacher. He is a former longtime physical education teacher and athletic director at Jones Middle School.
He replaced Dinah Hardeman, who had been his physical education teacher at Abney Elementary, Carter said.
“My goal is to engage and inspire kids to play at least 60 minutes a day,” he said.
Carter also said he works to teach his students activities they can do both at school and at home to keep them physically fit.
“Now, kids are playing video games or are on their phones,” Carter said. “I feel like it’s my job to give them other options.”
District Wellness Manager Kimberly Rivers-Blackmon submitted the grant application. She said the award was based on Carter’s ideas for fitness programs at the school.
Throughout the year, awardees will receive technical assistance from the Georgia Health Policy Center to ensure they implement sustainable activities customized for the needs of the students and staff, a news release stated.
Collectively, Georgia Shape efforts are intended to improve the state’s health outcomes among youth as part of the Georgia School Health and Physical Education Act.
The Georgia Shape grants also help schools meet nutritional guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and other federal laws that protect and advance student health.