Livingston educator trying to combat childhood obesity

Livingston educator trying to combat childhood obesity

Determined to avoid seeing Polk County ranked as the Texas county with the highest percentage of obese children again, officials with the Livingston Independent School District are using grant money to teach their students about the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle.

Andrew Dunson, a fourth grader at Livingston Intermediate School, said his favorite subject in school is PE, and he recently joined the Running Club at school. The Running Club was established last year to combat childhood obesity.

"Me and my friends like to have a good time, and we don't care who comes in first." Said Dunson.

Dunson said he can run a mile in about eight minutes. Melanie Justice, Dunson's PE teacher, said it's a time she doesn't see too often in her classroom.

Last year, a statewide survey found that out of 232 counties, Polk County ranked dead last on the obesity scale. However, they weren't the only ones. In fact, nearly all the counties in East Texas were in the bottom half.

Justice said when it comes to childhood obesity, it can affect a child's growth and impact their grades .After brainstorming, educators found that the best way they could make a difference is by educating their students through fitness programs.

However, in order to put their plans into effect they needed money, so they applied for a grant through Run for Something Better.

"I had a junior high teacher help me write it," Justice said. "We applied for it, got it, reapplied for it this year, and got it."

She said their programs infuses academics and physical education into one curriculum. Their program also impact the students' love ones because they require family involvement.

"We are affecting everybody. We are affecting our community," Justice said.

The grant was distributed to 60 elementary schools across the nation. Livingston Intermediate School was the only school in Texas to receive this grant.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.