New program helps Stone Co. Middle students get fit

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As Mississippi struggles to find solutions to an alarming increase in childhood obesity, the Stone County School District is tackling the problem head on. This month, Stone Middle School introduced a new fitness program with an innovative approach that challenges kids to exercise both their bodies and their minds.

A test of strength and endurance showed sixth, seventh, and eight graders their physical strengths and their weaknesses.

"I had fun doing the monkey bar thing and the pull ups with the rope," said Corey Price, a sixth grader. "It was really fun."

Stone Middle School received a $25,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield to buy exercise equipment and implement a fitness program. School officials said they don't want students here to suffer from the health problems that come with childhood obesity.

Physical Education Instructor Jason Jones said, "Many times maybe physical education has been maybe put to the side a little bit. The state has new standards to be able to incorporate physical education more during school activity. Hopefully, it's getting better than it has been in the past."

The indoor component to the program means students don't have to skip a beat on rainy days. Students run laps around the gym, but in the middle of that they must figure out how to arrange thousands of cups. They work under a time limit and one mistake could send everything crashing down.

Sixth Grader Tierra Taylor said, "So we're trying to build that into a pyramid and stack them up. You focus and pay attention to what he said you can really do it."

In a time when playing video games and watching TV seems to be more popular than playing outside, physical education teachers say innovative programs like this one make a difference.

"It involves music and the things that the kids really enjoy," said Physical Education Instructor John Cobb. "They get to do exercise and sometimes they don't really realize they're exercising to do it so it's really great."

Cobb said, "I hope it makes us a more physically fit community. I think it will. It's a really great program. I think everybody is going to get on board and it's really going to go well."

The Middle School Principal Shana Breland wrote the grant.

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