GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Four Gulfport elementary schools are enjoying new exercise equipment. It's all part of a grant-funded initiative through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
Over the past decade, BCBSMS has been helping schools throughout the state become fit. Eugenia King, with BCBSMS, said four more Gulfport schools are now added to that list, bringing the total to 208 schools so far.
"It's a very rewarding experience for the foundation. It's very rewarding for me to have the opportunity to work with these schools, to work with the physical education teachers," said King.
Teachers, like Judy Grose at 28th Street Elementary, compiled data and helped write the grant application.
"It was a team process, and it all fell together in the end," said Grose.
The grants awarded to each school provide around $26,000 of equipment and material. Once a school is awarded the grant, a two year program is implemented.
"There's so much with it besides just this equipment," said Grose.
According to Grose, BCBSMS provides additional materials, indoor activities and new verbiage that encourages students to get fit.
Marla Thompson teaches at West Elementary, which also receives grant money.
"It's such a great asset to our school, because our children can now come outside and work on fitness activities and build muscle and build strength," said Thompson.
According to Thompson, the grant application was extensive, but seeing the result is well worth it.
"It's really a neat thing to watch them change and develop and grow stronger, and I think they surprise themselves sometimes," said Thompson.
Overall, BCBSMS has awarded $5.5 million as part of the initiative called Project Fit America. Bayou View Elementary and Central Elementary also received Project Fit America grants from BCBSMS.