Clanton Elementary receives BCBS grant

Published 11:13 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Clanton Elementary School will be expanding its gym equipment thanks to a Be Healthy School Grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

The physical education teachers applied for $10,000 and expect to receive the full amount. PE teacher Sheila Speaks said the funds will be received in two payments, one per semester in the 2022-2023 school year.

The grant program is a part of the company’s efforts to support lowering the childhood obesity rate in the state.

PE teacher Sarah Hanzes said the grant program looks for community and family involvement and an emphasis on fitness as a lifestyle in the schools that it chooses to fund.

The school’s participation in the Healthy Eating Active Living program by Christy Swaid, which provides a curriculum to teach students about making healthy food choices and having an active lifestyle, was emphasized in the grant application.

“Being a part of that program also helped us receive the grant,” Speaks said.

HEAL also gets students’ families involved and provides handouts on the body’s systems.

The school also participates in the Kid’s Heart Challenge with the American Heart Association.

This is the third time CES has received a BCBS Be Healthy grant.

“We are always looking to improve what we already have,” Hanzes said.

Speaks had applied for this and other grants in the past with success.

The gym equipment is used by the 1,100 Clanton Elementary School students as well as the 600 students in the after-school program, which includes some students from Clanton Intermediate School.

“The whole community will be involved in this grant, and we are excited to have it,” PE teacher Christian Coston said.

Hanzes said the new equipment will give “everyone an opportunity to play.”

“We wanted to have a full set for the whole class, so the kids are not having to share, and get maximum participation,” Speaks said.

This equipment includes roller racers, tricycles, scooters, bicycles and mini-basketball hoops and volleyball nets for the lower grades to use.

“Some of the kids have to connect two of those scooters together, and they are built to connect together, to actually to get to ride the scooter … If they can’t ride a roller racer, they can ride a scooter board,” Speaks said.

Specialized equipment for students with physical disabilities has also been purchased.

“No kid is left out,” Speak said.

Speaks said she is looking forward to having a variety of equipment for the students.

“It motivates them to want to participate and play,” Speaks said. “The kids, they get excited when they walk in the gym (and see the equipment).”

This can also help students who may not be interested in sports to enjoy the class and stay active.

For some students, PE class is where they learn how to ride a trike or bike for the first time.

Elementary students have PE every day for 35 minutes. The preschool students come every other day.