HJHS Seventh grader Patrick Clark works on his abs with the aid of an exercise stand while classmate Ashton Johnson waits his turn. The pace of physical activity will pick up at the school next August with the implementation of a new fitness initiative. | Clif Knight
HJHS Seventh grader Patrick Clark works on his abs with the aid of an exercise stand while classmate Ashton Johnson waits his turn. The pace of physical activity will pick up at the school next August with the implementation of a new fitness initiative. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Schools look to make ‘impact’ on wellness

Published 12:00pm Monday, March 24, 2014

Hartselle City Schools is taking the initiative to foster and promote a healthier lifestyle on the part of students, staff, families and the community as a whole.

“The Impact” will make its presence felt as a pilot program at Hartselle Junior High School next August.

Its mission is to provide an environment and culture that educates and supports individuals in their pursuit of living a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and good nutritional habits.

“Plans are shaping up and we’ll have everything under wraps and ready to go when school starts,” said P.E. teacher Shane Alexander, who is serving as program coordinator.

Alexander got the idea for “The Impact” from of fellow P.E. teacher, Nivada Spurlock, a Hartselle native who started a similar wellness program at Homewood High School five years ago.

“I met with her for a day and she showed me what their students and faculty are doing to combat obesity and maintain a healthy lifestyle, both inside and outside of school,” he stated. “What I observed was amazing. I was sold on their program and came home with a burning desire to see the same type of program implemented in our school system.

Seventh grader Jill Ladd and eighth graders Emma Wilson and Emileigh Robb, from left, work out with jump ropes to show support for a new wellness program that will implemented at Hartselle Junior High next school year. | Clif Knight
Seventh grader Jill Ladd and eighth graders Emma Wilson and Emileigh Robb, from left, work out with jump ropes to show support for a new wellness program that will implemented at Hartselle Junior High next school year. | Clif Knight

“What spurred us on was the fact that we have space in the Pettey Center to accommodate such a program,” Alexander pointed out. “The former Hartselle High School weight room and wrestling training room have been cleaned up, repainted and partially furnished. They will be used for physical activities before, during and after school.”

Alexander said The Impact’s first order of business is to get a commitment of support from students, faculty and parents.

“The students will need a strong support system to make the program successful,” Alexander said. “Our teachers and parents are being challenged to assume that role. Currently, a class period is 51 minutes. If you deduct the amount of time it takes students to be settled in and change clothes, they only have about 30 minutes left for physical activity. That’s only about half of what is needed for them to stay physically fit, leaving before school and after school as an option to make up the difference.”

Alexander said developing good nutritional habits would be an important part of “The Impact.”

“We’re not sure at this point what changes might be made in our school lunch program to facilitate wellness,” he added, “But we’re already making plans to open a snack bar in the Petty Center, stocked with dried fruits, nuts and other diet-friendly products for faculty and students.”

Alexander said the school would pursue grants, conduct fundraisers and solicit donations from individuals, businesses and community organizations to help fund the program.

“We’ll recognize our sponsors by placing their logos on a wall in our wellness center,” he said.

“We recognize this is not a program that can be fully implemented overnight,” Alexander said. “We’ll implement it at a slow pace and allow some time for it to gain momentum. Our goal is to have it working in all of our schools within five years.”

Donations to “The Impact” are already being received at the office of Hartselle Junior High School. They may be dropped off in person or mailed to “The Impact,” c/o Hartselle Junior High School, 904 Sparkman Street, Hartselle AL 35640.

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