In partnership with Action for Healthy Kids®, more than 100 CSX employees, community volunteers, and students, staff and their families enacted healthful changes Aug. 16 to combat undernourishment and childhood obesity.
As part of the Get in the Action event at Atlanta's Parkside Elementary School, volunteers spread fresh mulch on the playground; built five picnic tables and two vertical storage units for gardening supplies; repaired, painted and planted new vegetation in six planter benches; laid a brick pathway, removed weeds and debris, and pruned existing plants in the garden; and readied the foundation for an 8-by-12 cedar greenhouse adjacent to the garden. The facilities will serve as outdoor classrooms for 565 pre-K through fifth-grade students.
Caitlin Sims, Parkside Elementary School principal, said the improvements equate to 10 years of fundraising dollars. "This has refreshed our school and energized our staff and students," said Armelia Braddy, Parkside Elementary School physical education teacher, who wrote the integral $10,000 grant proposal. "We are a diamond in the rough too few know about. The community has begun investing in our children by following CSX's example. To partner with CSX is like gaining a parent. It takes a village, we are a village and we welcome CSX to our village."
The garden, chock-full of fruits and vegetables, provides ingredients for monthly tastings and unique nutritional lessons.
"It is exciting to be able to plug our many parent resources into the outdoor classroom spaces, including the garden," said Katie Howard, parental involvement chair. "Many more people know what this school has to offer because of today."
Volunteers' contributions to this green space helped increase the likelihood of a school fundraising booth at the neighborhood farmers market. "This built great excitement and energy in the garden and it will domino and continue to gain interest," said Carol Denhof, building and grounds committee chair.
Action for Healthy Kids® combats undernourishment, physical inactivity and childhood obesity by helping schools become places to promote healthier lives. The event was made possible through CSX's How Tomorrow Moves initiative and their commitment to healthier youth.
"This has been a record-breaking workday for us, and we thank CSX for supplying additional resources and support and igniting us as the school year begins," Howard said. "We are extremely grateful." This year alone, CSX's partnership with Action for Healthy Kids® will benefit 287 schools in 12 states.
"When an amazing nonprofit like Action for Healthy Kids® taps into a school and community that has a passion for health and wellness and connects them to a corporate partner that responds with financial donations and human capital, it explodes the energy and success of a project," Sims said. "It made everyone involved dig deeper, work harder and stay longer. Every person and partner converged to make this a success."