Strategic Communications Manager
In the 2018-19 school year, Morrilton Intermediate School was the setting for the Champions For Health Pilot Project, an innovative effort to help improve the health of the school’s students, teachers, and staff members.
Champions For Health, formerly known as the Arkansas Heart Foundation, is a nonprofit organization established in 2015 by Dr. Bruce Murphy, CEO of Arkansas Heart Hospital. Its initial mission was to improve the heart health of Arkansans, but in 2018 it switched its focus to addressing the childhood obesity epidemic.
The pilot project at Morrilton Intermediate School included placement of water stations in the school cafeteria, construction and maintenance of tower gardens in the science lab, and student fitness assessments and adult body mass index (BMI) screenings at the beginning and end of the school year. Teachers and staff members also were encouraged throughout the school year to participate in professional health coaching sessions, attend lunch-and-learn sessions on health topics, and include activity sessions for students in their classes.
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement conducted an evaluation of the project. Our findings include:
ACHI found noteworthy changes in students’ health behaviors and in the body composition of students who were classified as overweight or obese at the beginning of the school year. We also found that although fewer than half of the teachers and staff members who participated in the project at the beginning of the school year remained committed to the project throughout the school year, those who did participate throughout the school year showed significant average weight and fat loss.