Teachers get cash to fight childhood obesity

$5,000 grants will be used for sports equipment, more

A Black Canyon City teacher was among five Arizona teachers and their schools receiving $5,000 grants to fund school programs that fight childhood obesity. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona awarded the five grants based on the winners’ exceptional execution of the 2017 Walk On! Challenge.

The Walk On! Challenge is a free monthlong health and fitness challenge held each year in February. The program has reached nearly 330,000 elementary-aged children since it began 12 years ago and aims to motivate participants to incorporate healthy habits into their daily routines for a healthier lifestyle now and in the future. Teachers from 205 schools around the state participated in this year’s Challenge, reaching 23,000 fourth- and fifth-graders.

Trinka Hall at Canon School in Black Canyon City won one of the five grants. Other recipients were Brianna McLaughlin at Prince Elementary School in Tucson; Margaret Mander at Picacho Elementary School in Picacho; Duane Yazzie at Tsehootsooi School in Fort Defiance; and Aaron Whiting at Taylor Intermediate School in Snowflake.

“I’ve been participating in the Walk On! Challenge for years, but I’ve never had an entire class willing to make the effort to commit to the program. This class was into it wholeheartedly!” said Trinka Hall at Canon School in Black Canyon City. “The students really enjoyed the activities we were able to complete during the Challenge, and we all look forward to the new supplies and equipment this grant will afford our small, rural school.”

An independent panel of educators reviewed the applications. Scoring was based on the participation level of students, an increased awareness of healthy choices, how teachers implemented the program in the classroom and plans for the grant money.

This year’s grant applications featured ideas to create a Student Wellness Team complete with a family pantry filled with healthy foods for families in need, improved breakfast programs, updating playground equipment, purchasing “Recess Kits” complete with new balls and jump ropes and building a greenhouse so students can grow their own produce.

For more information about Walk On!, grant criteria or the 5-2-1-0 daily goal, visit www.walkonaz.com.