South Mississippi schools are always searching for creative ways to help curb the childhood obesity epidemic. One Gulfport school knows it can't fight the battle alone. So it's reaching out to the community with a new health and fitness campaign called "Hip to be Fit."
On Tuesday, 28th Street Elementary enlisted the help of some Gulfport Seabees to show students how to fight the flab military style.
"Buccaneers, forward march!" a Seabee shouted to a group of third graders.
The Gulfport students were on the move and ready to attack a silent enemy. They marched around the school walking track and chanted: "Momma, momma can't you see. What the school is teaching me."
The mini-military boot camp was part of a new fitness strategy at 28th Street Elementary. The school recruited some Gulfport Seabees to join its battle against obesity.
"They have healthy messages and they're marching and the children are having a blast and they are getting healthy and having fun at the same time," said school nurse Traci Easterling.
Once a month, the school will invite other people in the community to come on campus to host a health related activity. Raymond Rankins is one of those volunteers.
"Begin, one, two, three," he counted as the children started doing jumping jacks.
Rankins is a fitness instructor. He's also a dad with two children at 28th Street Elementary.
"I think every parent needs to get involved with kids' fitness, and childhood obesity is really high in the U.S. right now," said Rankins. "I love every bit about it and anything that I can do to help out, or help my kids out, or help these kids out, I'm always ready to help."
Along with an exercise regimen, students will also get nutrition and wellness lessons. On Tuesday, a group of USM dietetic interns explained the importance of eating the right foods. With help from their new partners, the students are taking the right steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
The teachers at 28th Street Elementary also have a fitness program. It's their version of the "Biggest Loser" competition to see who can shed the most weight.
Also on Tuesday, the school kicked off a fundraising campaign to help pre-term babies. They are trying to raise at least $1,000 by the end of the month for the March of Dimes.
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