Staff at Glenwood Elementary School said as they strive to positively shape students’ bodies and minds, they teamed up for a collaborative project involving the community.

“We know if we are healthy, we do better academically,” said school guidance counselor Betty Ross. “These groups get to have conversation we don’t get to have.”

On Friday, Oct. 6, the entire school took part in Healthy Body Boot Camp where they visited stations led by The McDowell Hospital, RHA, YMCA, Alpine Towers, McDowell County Sheriff’s Office and the school’s P.E. teacher, Amy McEntire.

“Being physically healthy is just as important as being academically healthy,” said Glenwood’s principal Amy Dowdle. “We are definitely a community school and our success is based on the support that we receive. Alpine Towers from Asheville had an obstacle course set up outside of the school where different classes raced against each other walking planks, kicking balls and jumping tires. Mary Gilliam, with the program development department of Alpine Towers, said it’s a proven fact kids are more focused when they are loosened up.

“This is good for kids to get out and move, work as a team and hang out with their friends,” she added. “I noticed it when I was teaching when I would let them have a break. Their energy was more honed in and they had more respect for me because I was willing to do something with them.”

Heather Caldwell, senior director of Population Health at the Corpening YMCA, introduced students to the fruitful colors of the rainbow and had students try smoothies and hummus as a healthy snack.

“The main takeaway for them is the ‘sometimes philosophy’ where sometimes we eat candy and sugar and every day we eat (fruits and vegetables), and getting them engaged into why these things are good,” said Caldwell.

Kimberly Freeman, a certified tobacco treatment specialist with The McDowell Hospital, brought in a healthy and unhealthy pig lung, as well as a jar of tar to teach students about the dangers of smoking.

“I’m talking about tobacco use, smoking, vaping and e-cigarettes. We have gotten lots of questions about those,” said Freeman. “With the introduction of e-cigarettes, kids are exposed to cotton candy flavors and it sounds appealing. So we are trying to dispel those myths and give them some hope.”

Outside on the track, P.E. teacher Amy McEntire had students participating in Walk Across America where they are competing to get the most laps against the classes in their grade levels.

“This is a win for the kids because they are getting healthier, but also it helps their performance in the classroom too,” she said. “It’s been a great day.”

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