When our schools allow us to be a part of their school culture for two weeks, some of the things we discover about them during that time are quite remarkable. So many of our schools truly go above and beyond to develop and impact their students. Our team members rave about our schools to each other, but many schools have stories that are worth sharing with everyone.
Friendship Elementary in Buford, GA is definitely one of those schools.
Friendship’s principal, Berry Walton, has been the leader of the school for 11 years. Before becoming an administrator, he was a P.E teacher and has been coaching football for 15 years. Needless to say, Mr. Walton is a huge proponent of fitness and wellness, so much so that one year ago, with the goal to help combat the childhood obesity rate in their school, he and his staff decided to integrate fitness and wellness into their school culture as much as possible.
This is a typical day at Friendship Elementary.
When the Boosterthon Fun Run served Friendship a few weeks ago, it didn’t take long for our team to notice something different about the school. Arriving early to open doors at carpool line, our team members noticed that groups of students were in the gym before school doing aerobics and plyometrics. (This is part of Friendship’s morning fitness sessions where students participate in fitness activities from 7:30 AM – 7:45 AM in the morning four times a week!)
As the program continued, the our team joined the entire school during the 1 o’clock “energy break” when students everyday stop what they’re doing and perform the exercise of the week, which turns into a 4 minute dance session! (If you know us, random acts of enthusiasm and dancing are kind of our thing, so we naturally joined along.) This short break helps students get their blood flowing and work some fun exercise into the middle of their day.
When students are in the classroom, Mr. Walton is also asking teachers to promote healthier foods if snacks are provided anytime during the day. Students should eat bran muffins, instead of donuts; drink fruit smoothies or water, instead of soda.
At the end of the school day, when most students head home, groups stayed for the wellness afterschool activity session where students can take a hip hop dance class, basketball fundamentals, and if you’re a girl, Girls on the Run—a girls running club that focuses on social and character issues while also training for a 5K—a 3.1 mile road race!
The teachers are also invited to join the school community’s fitness activities as well, with 10% - 15% of the staff doing group fitness workouts in the gym after school a few times per week.
“We want to take school wellness to the next level,” Mr. Walton said. “We may be going a bit overboard. We almost changed our school name to something like ‘Friendship Wellness School,’ but instead, we added a motto: Building Stronger Minds and Bodies.”
One of the most important things Mr. Walton said that helped get the students behind this new health initiative was modeling it. “If it’s important to me, and I think it should be important to them, they need to see me promoting it. It starts at the top.” Also, the school needs a “Wellness Champion,” someone on staff who always promotes the initiative. For Friendship, it’s their P.E teacher, Scott Weaver, but it can be anyone.
“What we’re doing here is not rocket science, it's just common sense,” said Mr. Walton. “We just want to create a culture of making healthy decisions.”
Semi-annually, Friendship holds a voluntary BMI (body mass index) test to measure the body health of their students, and with CRCT testing coming up, the school is interested to see if there are any improvements in test scores. Hopefully, as their fitness initiative continues, the results with echo the school’s new motto: Building Stronger Minds and Bodies.
We’re excited to serve great schools like Friendship Elementary!
Learn more about Friendship’s wellness program.
The Boosterthon Fun Run is a fundraising company designed for America’s top schools. Since 2001, Boosterthon’s taught millions of students across the nation about the importance of fitness, leadership, and character while helping schools raise needed funds. To inquire how our unique fundraising program can help with your school’s fundraising needs, visit www.boosterthon.com/contact.