Grant will help CES purchase new physical ed. equipment

Clanton Elementary students play on the climbing wall that was purchased through the 2014 Be Healthy Grant.

Clanton Elementary students play on the climbing wall that was purchased through the 2014 Be Healthy Grant.

Clanton Elementary School will receive funding through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama’s School Grant Program to combat childhood obesity.

For the second consecutive year, CES will have the opportunity to purchase new equipment for its physical education program with the grant money.

The Be Healthy School Grant Program is awarding $250,000 in grants to 28 schools statewide for the 2015-2016 school year.

The grants are for the implementation of school-based health and wellness programs, emphasizing increased exercise, nutrition education and parental involvement.

This year, Clanton Elementary received $6,750 in grant money.

Physical Education Teacher Sheila Speaks said they plan to purchase pedometers, Roller Racers, bicycles and tricycles for use during P.E. class and after-school care.

“We’re hoping that the pedometers will encourage the kids to be more active, since counting steps can be like a game,” Speaks said. “We also need to replace some of the equipment and get more bikes for all of the kids to use.”

In addition to keeping children active at school, Speaks said she would also like to see students live a healthier lifestyle, even at home.

According to Speaks, the goal is to also get more parental involvement in order to build a healthy community.

“We try to give them the information needed for them to make healthy choices all the time,” Speaks said.

Since 2012, Blue Cross has awarded over $510,000 in 58 Be Healthy School Grants statewide impacting nearly 28,000 students, according to a press release.

“The success of our school grant program validates the investment we are making in the long-term health of Alabama’s children,” Blue Cross Blue Shield Community Relations Manager Jeff Adams said in a press release. “We are seeing firsthand the results of healthy lifestyle initiatives being implemented in our schools by students and faculty.”

Last year, CES received $10,000 through the grant and purchased an 8-by-12 feet climbing wall.

“The kids absolutely love the climbing wall,” Speaks said. “It builds their upper body strength and balance, and it just gets them excited about moving.”

The money will be distributed in two installments, with half of the money received each semester.

Speaks said the grant coincides with the physical education curriculum at CES.

Namely, the HEAL program, which promotes healthy eating and active living, has been improved through the grant because the new equipment provides students with a variety of ways to stay active.

“It’s great to see the kids getting excited over the new equipment,” Speaks said. “We provide a developmental program for our kids. We want them to get the most out of it that they can.”