Kindergarten Students Go “Wild About Wellness”

Kindergarten Students from Washington Street Elementary School listen in as Gray-Haired Granny, Jean Millard talks about the negative impacts of bullying during the Wild About Wellness event held May 12.

Students participate in a relay at the Wild About Wellness Event held May 12. The annual event is designed to encourage Kindergarten students to make healthy lifestyle choices for eating, physical activity and emotional health. Parachute fun, dancing, fresh fruit, relays and cheers – all of these are activities from this year’s “Wild About Wellness” celebration.

The event brings Kindergarten students from all over Richmond County together to celebrate physical activity, healthy eating and other lifestyle choices.

“Wild About Wellness” not only provides a fun time for students, it also provides informational booths about health and fitness, dental health, anti-smoking, fire safety and nutrition.

Several high school students including football players, cheerleaders, Senate members and students in health occupations courses; along with volunteers, parents, teachers and businesses; also contribute to the program’s success.

Deann Anderson, program coordinator, says that Wild About Wellness is part of a larger partnership entitled “Operation Healthy Kids” between FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Richmond County Health Department and the Richmond County Schools.

It promotes healthier eating choices and increasing physical activity among younger students.

“We measure the students in the fall and spring to determine their body mass indexes,” Anderson said. “We want to encourage the students to eat fruits and vegetables that they may not already eat. It’s also important that we stress the importance of physical activity everyday.”

Students visited several stations during their time at the event, which fell during a very timely week, as two state departments signed an agreement on Tuesday to place more emphasis on promoting wellness in the schools across North Carolina.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the N.C. Health Leadership Assembly in Raleigh, State School Superintendent June Atkinson and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler pledged collaborative efforts to ensure that students are well-informed about healthier lifestyle choices.

This year’s “Wild About Wellness” program not only focused on physical health, but mental and emotional health, as well.

As part of the event, UNC-TV sponsored “Grey-haired Granny,” alias for Jean Millard, a North Carolina author who speaks to children about the negative impacts of bullying.

Her book “Charlie the Dimpled Dragon” is designed to encourage students to accept the differences of others. She also designed a “No Bullying Allowed Promise” that students sign as young children, a pledge that they will not participate in bullying.

“This is a grassroots effort to help prevent bullying among school students,” Millard said. “We donate the books to the children, and encourage them to sign the pledge. Our purpose is two-fold – we want to show students the importance of reading, but we also focus on the message of the book, that healthy living includes how we treat others around us.”

Diane Lamont, lead nurse for Richmond County Schools, says students look forward to the event all year. She hopes to expand health and wellness efforts to all grade levels within the county schools in conjunction with state efforts.

“Promoting healthy living among students takes the support of our entire community,” Lamont said. “We want to continue to collaborate with other health and wellness organizations to emphasize the importance of health to our children and their families. We want to show everyone that healthy living does not have to be a burden, you can find ways to make it enjoyable.”

“Wild About Wellness” continues to grow each year, with increasing numbers of community organizations coming together for the cause.

Several organizations contributed to the success of this year’s Wild About Wellness event: First Health Memorial, Sandhills Regional Medical Center, Farm Bureau. Richmond County Health Department, Richmond Senior High School students and staff, UNC-TV, Forestry Service, Rockingham Fire Department, Golf Pride, RCS Nurses, teachers, Hamlet Police Department. Monetary sponsors included Perdue, Farm Bureau, Golf Pride, Coldwell Banker, Carolina Farm Credit, McDonalds, Food Lion, Wilson Farms and Robinette Properties.

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