Georgia First Lady: Health Empowers You! Program Yields Positive Results

September 8, 2014

Program Findings Demonstrate Link Between Child Activity in School and Overall Health

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) now has scientific evidence to show that physical activity does improve a student's overall health.

At Bethlehem Elementary School in Locust Grove, Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal and Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., announced the results that Health Empowers YOU!, a grant program designed to improve children’s activity levels and health during the school day, produced successful results throughout the 2013-2014 school year. The findings of this program informed Georgia SHAPE’s new Power Up for 30 initiative.

“Childhood obesity is a serious threat in Georgia, but the results of this program prove that it is not an insurmountable challenge,” said First Lady Deal. “By taking simple actions during the school day, we can help students get active, improve their health and have fun doing it.”

Health Empowers You! provides professional training, curriculum and resources to enable teachers to increase physical activity among their students during the school day, as well as before and after school. Professors from Georgia State University evaluated the results and found increased activity levels, increased aerobic capacity, improved Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles and improved knowledge of important physical activity concepts among students at the 39 participating Georgia elementary schools.

Health Empowers You! was created by HealthMPowers, a Georgia non-profit organization that promotes healthy eating and physical activity in schools using evidence-based guidelines from the CDC. Funding for the HealthMPowers program was provided by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation.

"This is a program with proven results that's making a significant impact on the health of children throughout Georgia," said BCBSGa President Morgan Kendrick. "Investing in kids' health is investing in their future. This program ensures that kids enter the classroom ready to learn and succeed." 

Findings from Health Empowers You! were used to guide training and resource development for Power Up for 30, which is part of Georgia SHAPE - a statewide initiative to combat childhood obesity. This voluntary program encourages every elementary school in Georgia to include an additional 30 minutes of physical activity each day. So far, 321 schools have signed up to participate in Power Up for 30.

“The wonderful thing about this program is that its impact won’t be limited to the 39 schools that participated last year, but will affect children across the state” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, which administers Georgia SHAPE. “The scientifically researched methods and results are being used to inform statewide programs moving forward, and they are a valuable tool.”

For more information on Georgia SHAPE, visit: www.georgiashape.org

For more information on Health Empowers YOU!, visit www.healthmpowers.org.

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