This year, CSX and Action for Healthy Kids will fight childhood obesity by promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity at 287 schools in 12 states. Toledo, Ohio’s Martin Luther King Jr. Academy for Boys benefited from the partnership Oct. 18.
“We promote health and discipline to the entire student body,” said Brenda Elliott, academy nurse. “If we are not preparing for success, we are preparing to fail.”
Thirty volunteers, including CSX employees, area residents and school staff, students and parents, weeded existing garden beds and installed a tetherball set.
“We appreciate the opportunity CSX has provided us,” Elliott said. “Many of our students are not accustomed to eating healthy. I believe this will change their lives.”
They also built, installed and stained a privacy fence to designate a playground for third- through sixth-graders. “We didn’t have a safe outdoor space for our third- through sixth-grade students to be active and play,” said Angela Cassidy, assistant principal. “This will allow that, feed their innate sense to compete, and promote healthy lives and team building, which is important to build young men of excellence.” The institution’s mission is statement is “Boys of destiny. Men of distinction.”
CSX and AFHK also provided a fun hoop, soccer goals, and sports and playground balls. “The playground will not only give students a safe and secure place to play and but also will give their parents peace of mind knowing their children are safe and away from the neighboring park that is plagued by crime and gang activity,” said Cornell Talley, 27-year campus protection officer and former 16-year volunteer basketball coach. “Healthy eating and exercised go together like hand and glove.”
During the 2013-2014 school year, seven out of 15 classrooms held daily in-class brain breaks using grant-funded exercise equipment. A 100-Mile Club, which devoted 30 minutes daily before school and 45 minutes once per week after school, also was implemented. One-third of the student body participated. Thirteen students completed the 100-mile challenge.
Also this past school year, approximately 60 students, parents and staff benefited from a Spring Dash fun run/5k and an April health fair celebrated Every Kid Healthy Week with more than 20 community vendors.
Thanks to CSX and AFHK, grants for $2,500 and $500 made these events possible.
More than 95 percent of the academy’s 250 students, grades K-6, are eligible for free or reduced lunch. The national average is 46 percent. “Working with CSX and AFHK helps leverage volunteers and provides a new array of healthy activities.” said Romules Durant, school superintendent and 1994 Toledo Public Schools graduate. “Collective impact requires a collective effort.”