HUNTINGTON – A program at Huntington High School that has worked with Mayor Steve Williams to promote and provide increased health and wellness activities in the community received national recognition Wednesday, Jan. 18.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), in partnership with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA), has awarded the Huntington High School Wellness Academy with a $25,000 grant and the City of Huntington with a second-place award in the small city category (population less than 75,000) of its 2017 Childhood Obesity Prevention Grants Program. The grant and award were announced Wednesday during the 85th Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.
More information about the grant and how it will benefit the Wellness Academy will be discussed during a news conference at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at the Huntington High School auditorium. Students in the Wellness Academy will also discuss how the program has improved their lives.
The Huntington High Wellness Academy was formed in 2014 to educate students and their parents on how to adopt principles of well-being in one’s life. The program relies on the “wellness wheel” components, which include physical, nutritional, spiritual, emotional, financial environmental and intellectual health. This mindset has resulted in health fairs, exercise equipment, hiking trails and growing fresh fruits and vegetables at the high school.
“In 2008, our community’s health was called into question when it was labeled as the unhealthiest in the country," Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said said in a release. “Knowing that our community must become healthy if we are to have a healthy future, I engaged the Huntington High Wellness Academy after I was elected mayor in 2013.
“I am a firm believer that our youngsters should be placed in positions to lead our community, and it is evident that the students in the Wellness Academy have the creativity and the passion to address this challenge.”
The $25,000 grant will allow the Wellness Academy to expand its nutrition and exercise teachings to elementary schools; promote the farm-to-cafeteria concept; provide interaction and a stronger partnership among parents, schools and the community; and motivate individuals to take responsibility for their own health, according to Debbie Chapman, academy coordinator for Huntington High.
“Huntington High is extremely excited that the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America recognizes our efforts to improve the health of our community and to instill positive, lifelong habits in our students,” Chapman said in a release. “This grant will enable the Wellness Academy to become a model that other communities can use to engage their young people in becoming productive citizens.”