When Halle Pierce learned some of her classmates at North Hall Middle School didn’t have a lot of food to eat and sometimes went hungry, she wanted to learn all she could about health to help them. She wanted to take everything she learned at school to the Baker & Glover Mobile Home Park in North Hall where many of the school’s students live.
She learned about the Fuel Up to Play 60 program at her school and saw how its nutritional instruction could help. She and classmate Maribel Garcia have been in Atlanta this week for the Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador Summit, learning all they can to help North Hall Middle students make healthy choices.
“I wanted to be able to take those ideas for nutritional snacks to that neighborhood that feeds into this school,” said Pierce, a rising seventh-grader. “And I can expand from Baker & Glover to our school. I just want to help my community because there should never be hungry kids, ever.”
The Fuel Up to Play 60 program “is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program” started by the National Dairy Council and NFL to teach students to make better choices to live healthy lives. To become an ambassador, students accumulate points by completing health and activity challenges.
“I personally have always had a love for going to gym class and doing all of these activities they have,” said Garcia, a rising eighth-grader. “So coming to a place where more people like to do this like me made me want to come even more.”
Garcia said she’s learned a lot at the summit. Apart from activities like flag football, yoga, relay games, a talent night and an obstacle course, students have learned from Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL and Aja Evans, a United States Olympic medalist. They’ve also had the chance to learn from current NFL players.
“They’ll go back to our middle school and they’ll be our school leaders, and they’ll have so much information from the summit that will help our program be so much stronger,” said Debbie Wiley, physical education and health teacher at North Hall Middle. “This summit, it’s about training leaders ... and they get to have a lot of fun, but they get to hear some fabulous advice on being a part of the community, and you can tell they’re going to be great leaders.”
Pierce and Garcia both lead the wellness committee at their school. Through it, Pierce said they’ve been able to plan physical activities and offer nutritional ideas for the more than 50 students in the program.
“We first have to set the example ourselves by giving up some certain foods,” Pierce said. “It’s not a diet at all. It’s eating more of something like fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water, and having less of stuff like Coke and fatty foods and all of those unhealthy junk foods.”
Wiley said Pierce and Garcia are “very positive” and good role models for students and she’s confident they will leave the summit with good ideas on how to make their school and community a healthier place.
“We know that students perform better if they feel good and have energy and are fueled well,” Wiley said. “They’ve got to take care of themselves and make good choices ... that’s the kind of student we want and that’s the kind of school we want.”