OKLAHOMA CITY (July 24, 2014)- Students at Olustee Public Schools have more ways to be physically active thanks to an $1,000 dollar grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. The grant program gave the school funds to purchase gym scooters, four square balls, basketballs, and a parachute.
Physical activity is important because it gives them a chance to burn more energy before they get to class. This has shown an improvement academically,” states Melvin Hazel, Olustee Elementary School principal. “It is important for them to learn to have a healthy lifestyle, and physical activity makes them feel good.”
Principal Hazel has taken additional interest in the physical activity of his students by doubling as the physical education teacher for first through third graders. Evidence shows that physical activity can help improve academic achievement, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Since the purchase of our new equipment, the students are ready to go to PE class. They don’t just sit and look around at each other. They have new items to play with,” said Hazel. “Having the new equipment allows for students to remain active indoors during cold weather or rainy days, and it has made it easier for me to plan the activities.”
The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) strives to impact school districts like Olustee -- located in southwestern Oklahoma – through the Health Schools Incentive Grant program. The Healthy School Incentive Grant Program is a joint initiative with TSET and the Oklahoma State Department of Health that promotes healthy policies and strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of students and teachers. Programs like this can help students form healthy habits for a lifetime.
The Healthy Schools Incentive Grants offers grants to school districts and individual schools that adopt policies and programs to encourage students, faculty and staff to eat better, move more, and be tobacco free. After a school district has met grant criteria, individual school sites that have been awarded Certified Healthy status are eligible to apply for an incentive grant.
School districts across Oklahoma are making changes to help make the lives of their students healthier. There are 31 school districts in the state that have been awarded a Healthy Schools Incentive Grant.