Westside receives $9,000 grant from BCBS

Published 8:31 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2015

By BLAKE DESHAZO | The Demopolis Times

Westside Elementary School is looking to make their students, teachers and parents healthier by implementing a nutrition program into the curriculum next year.

The school was awarded a $9,800 grant by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama through its “Be Healthy Schools” program.

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“We’ll mainly use the grant for equipment and a new exercise and nutrition program,” said Tammy Thrasher, one of the school’s physical education teachers.

Like most schools, Westside already offers a physical education program to its students, but the school wants to take that up a notch by adding nutritional education and added emphasis on physical education.

“Hopefully this will make them conscience of what makes and keeps them healthy,” Thrasher said. “Of course we exercise during the day for P.E., but it also should carry on throughout their life.”

Thrasher and Kevin May, another physical education teacher at Westside, applied for the grant because they saw a need for it.

“We just needed to add more equipment,” Thrasher said. “We have so many students, and we needed something to benefit everyone.”

The school plans to use the grant to promote healthy eating habits and physical activity that will be with the students for the rest of their lives.

“I want them to take away knowledge and knowing the importance of staying healthy,” Thrasher said.

According to the grant application, Westside will put its plan into action by increasing students’ nutritional knowledge, increasing their level of physical activity and making sure they learn the importance of making healthy food choices and being active.

Teachers will use a “Wisercise” kit in the classroom to make the learning process entertaining and educational. The kits will include activities that will teach students about nutrition while being active.

The grant will be used to purchase exercise equipment like jump ropes, hurdles and other items, along with ten armband exercise monitors, which will allow them to track students’ heart rates and the amount of calories burned while exercising.

Thrasher said she is excited the grant came through, and she is ready to implement the program.

“I’m just very excited,” Thrasher said. “I can’t wait. I wish we had it today.”