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Cumberland County District PTA Council Makes a Smart Move

Sep 27, 2017, 10:52 AM

When Cumberland County District PTA Council (CCDPTAC) first decided to apply for the Smart from Start Grant: Community Outreach from National PTA, sponsored by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) , we saw this as an avenue to implement healthy living in our county. Our theme for the school year was Healthy Lifestyles and we knew this grant would be a great way for us to help move forward in our communities.

Lucile Souders Elementary Fall Fitness Fair

Lucile Souders Elementary Fall Fitness Fair

Cumberland County is a military town, which has been consistently undergoing development. However, many of our school districts and families reside in places known as food deserts. In these areas, families lack access to transportation and are predominately low-income communities. Many of the residents in these areas find it difficult to obtain affordable and nutritious food nearby or within their community, thus compelling them to purchase daily groceries from gas stations and convenient markets while consuming excessive amounts of over processed foods. Also, these same districts have limited affordable indoor activities and are lacking safe recreation centers.

Mary McArthur Elementary Fitness Fair

Mary McArthur Elementary Fitness Fair

 

After receiving the grant and assessing the needs of our families, we decided as a board that we needed to find ways to help families possess the knowledge and skills necessary to make nutritious and enjoyable food choices for a lifetime with the resources and food markets within our county. The Smart from the Start: Pre-K curriculum teaches children ages 3-5 how to practice energy balance, which is balancing what we eat and drink with physical activity, and incorporates practical tips for reaching out to families.

In efforts to raise public awareness of energy balance living, we offered two fall fitness fairs at Lucile Souders Elementary and Mary McArthur Elementary schools. The fall fitness fairs focused on helping families across the community learn more about living a healthy lifestyle and provided relevant resources and education through movement. Participants were encouraged to use the curriculum and other free resources from HWCF’s Together Counts™ program. The events offered EMS Education, dental services, Zumba, free cellular phone giveaways, healthy eating door prizes and a game truck experience for all the children who attended.  There were more than 250 in attendance at each school. Both nights, a free food box was given to the first 200 families.

Community Wellness Fair’s throughout the County

Community Wellness Fair’s throughout the County

Community Wellness Fair’s throughout the County

Community Wellness Fair’s throughout the County

We were excited to be able to offer a family from each school a $100 shopping spree donated by Food Lion.  The shopping spree would allow our families to demonstrate and implement the energy balance curriculum they received during our fitness fair. At each event, we invited the families from the elementary schools and the nearby Head Start preschools in efforts to bridge the gap between Pre-K and K-12.

We received an enormous amount of support and appreciation from our school system, families and community partners, allowing us to expand our efforts throughout the entire county. Moving from two food desert areas to hosting community wellness fairs throughout the county—we were able to provide an array of services such as cooking classes, cooking demonstrations, taste testing, three 30-day fitness memberships and one family fitness membership. The family fitness membership allowed us to track the data and progress of a family and ensure that they utilize and implement the energy balance curriculum in their daily lives.

Is your PTA interested in focusing on healthy lifestyles in your school or community? Learn more on National PTA’s website.


 

Porcha McMillan is a proud member of PTA and has enjoyed servicing families in Cumberland County for the past eight years. She currently serves as the president for Cumberland County District PTA Council, recipient of a 2014 Smart from the Start: Community Outreach grant, and on the NC PTA Board of Directors. Her ultimate hope is to impact the lives of our future leaders and establish unity, active and successful PTAs within our communities.