Grant will be used to build ‘community of health’ at St. Mary’s school

Published 8:25am Monday, July 7, 2014

Most people would agree $20,000 is a healthy sum.
That’s particularly the case for St. Mary’s Catholic School.
With a $20,000 Champions for Healthy Kids grant, East Tennessee State University’s Beth Lowe and local pediatrician Dr. Heather Champney hope to create “a community of health” at the Johnson City school.
“For one component of the project, we will build a fitness trail on the campus,” Lowe says, “to provide students with an easily accessible, safe place to exercise.”
Lowe is an assistant professor in ETSU’s Department of Allied Health Sciences.
Lowe said the half-mile trail will have 10 fitness stations with exercise options, but there’s more to the trail than that: “Classroom teachers can use the trail for outdoor learning opportunities, and the after-school running club can use the trail, too.”
The second portion of the project is a growing concern. Literally, a growing concern: It’s a large school garden growing at St. Mary’s with a nearby mobile kitchen.
Champney, who assists the school with health and wellness curriculum, said the garden project will fill a void.
“The school curriculum lacks nutrition education. Collaboration with ETSU nutrition students will provide education for students, staff and families,” she said. “The mobile kitchen will allow these educators to give cooking demonstrations using produce from the garden.”
Champney said the project will provide families with after-school sessions offering healthy, simple solutions to dining challenges, even for those with busy schedules.
In addition, ETSU nutrition students will conduct reviews of the school’s lunch menus and provide suggestions on incorporating local produce and healthy kid-friendly options.
And there may be more in store, as if buuilding healthy eating habits wasn’t enough.
“The ETSU student instructors hope to offer monthly incentives to encourage participation,” Lowe said. “There will be gift certificates to healthy restaurants, food stores, parks and other family-friendly venues.”
The Champions grant is from the General Mills Foundation and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.
For more information, contact Lowe at 439-7537 or lowee@etsu.edu.

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