Decatur County schools promote weight loss programs

Published 5:47 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

Since 2006 each school system is required by the federal Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization to have a policy that educates and promotes health and wellness among students and staff. It is part of the National School Lunch program overseen by the USDA.

Decatur County Schools Nutrition Director Debbie Purcell said the county schools decided last year to promote staff wellness with the thought that healthy adults would be better prepared to promote student wellness if they, themselves, first understood the importance of eating healthy and exercising.

In August, 2013 interested employees enrolled in a nine-week-long session, weighing in weekly at each school and competing for prizes for the most weight lost and the most percentage of weight lost.

Purcell published a newsletter designed to help all achieve their goals.

It contained healthy recipes, health and fitness or diet information, a demonstrated exercise and inspirational quotes of encouragement.

There were a total of four nine-week sessions in which 94 people participated. After the first session, fitness was added to the equation by allowing one hour of exercise to equal one pound lost.

At the end of each session the winners received cash prizes from the proceeds generated from the registration fees and “fine money” paid by anyone who gained weight during the week.

Purcell said a total of 94 participated district-wide and together lost a total of 736.2 pounds. The Bainbridge-Decatur YMCA partnered with the school and CEO Adam Schrott  provided six months of free memberships to the overall winners, along with several “goodies.”

First place winner was Erica Farmer and second place was Sherri Floyd. Both worked at Bainbridge High School and won in both categories: weight loss and percentage of weight lost.

Purcell says, “As a result of this project the employees of the Decatur County School System are healthier and understand the importance of encouraging all our students and families to lead healthier lives.”

Other efforts to promote health and wellness that will be implemented this school year include “Georgia Power Up for 30” — urging each student to move 30 minutes in a day. All elementary teachers received training in that program last year and will begin it this year.

All of the schools, elementary middle and high school, are also incorporating Health-Wellness with Science in a program called “Farm to School.” It is in collaboration with of the STEM curriculum and encourages schools to plant and maintain a garden, with the result of having more local produce available for a healthy diet.

All second grades in the system will be planting pumpkins and will use the marketing concept to sell pumpkin products.