Poplarville Lower Elementary receives grant to promote health

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation awarded Poplarville Lower Elementary with a grant Friday afternoon.

According to previous coverage, Poplarville Lower Elementary was one of three schools in the state to receive the Healthy School Award. Ocean Springs High School won the “healthiest school in Mississippi” award and received a grant for $50,000. Oxford Intermediate School and Poplarville Lower Elementary each received a grant for $25,000.

“We’re excited to have received this grant and we’re thankful that Blue Cross and Blue Shield have reached out to the community in order to promote a healthier lifestyle,” Poplarville Lower Elementary School Principal Candace Henderson said. “The money in this grant will be used to continue our Fresh Fruit Friday project and also to purchase items for our portable health classroom.”

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The Fresh Fruit Friday project started during the 2016 school year, funded by a grant the school received from Pearl River Community College. The program exposes children to fruits they may not receive at home.

“Some of the fruits that children can choose range from grapples, kiwi, blood oranges and star fruit,” Henderson said. “Our main goal with this program is to make the children aware that there are many choices out there.”

Grapples are apples that have been soaked in a special solution to make the flesh taste like a grape.

Henderson said part of Mississippi’s curriculum includes a set of health standards for children between Kindergarten and second grade. Through the portable health classroom, the school can purchase puppets, games and other educational items teachers can use to meet those standards in their classroom.

While the school is promoting a healthier lifestyle in the cafeteria, Henderson said that the children are also engaged in fun physical activities.

Henderson said the school has a positive behavior intervention support store where children earn tickets by meeting school expectations or doing extraordinary things. Children can then spend those tickets at the store on coupons that allow the students to play kickball with the principal or basketball with members of PRCC’s basketball team.

“We have a kickball game where it’s a principal vs. assistant principal game and we get everyone involved and we all love it,” Henderson said. “We have also had days where we take our students to PRCC and the basketball team will play with them, color with them and even hold story time. This is just another way we encourage active play instead of electronic play…”

During presentation of the grant check, Henderson shared presentations performed by the students based on the theme of a living a healthier lifestyle through food choices and physical activity.

Eugenia King from Blue Cross Blue Shield said she was happy to see schools in southern Mississippi encourage a healthy lifestyle.

“I want to thank our assembled group, which consisted of people who work in our school, nurse practitioners, employees at PRCC, the Mississippi State Extension office, local business owners, parents, students and also Mayor Rossie Creel for all their hard work because this would have never happened if it wasn’t for them,” Henderson said. “Our goal is to win the main prize next year so we’ll continue to do everything we can to continue this healthy initiative among our students.”