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Ambassadors of good health from North Hall Middle earn trip through wellness program
Debbie Wiley, left, is physical education and health teacher at North Hall Middle School. Sixth-grader Clay Stover, right, is the “Georgia wellness ambassador” through the Fuel Up To Play 60 program. The pair will go to Purdue University for a health and wellness summit in July. - photo by RON BRIDGEMAN

Clay Stover’s dedication to a healthy lifestyle may be exceeded on by the enthusiasm that Debbie Wiley, North Hall Middle School physical education and health teacher, has for her sixth-grade student.

The pair, along with Clay’s mom, Tina Stover, will go to Purdue University in July after Clay was named “Georgia’s wellness ambassador” through the Fuel Up To Play 60 wellness project. The in-school nutrition and physical activity program is co-sponsored by the National Football League and National Dairy Council.

Wiley, a self-proclaimed nutrition and active evangelist, said Clay is “an extraordinary student.”

She explained how she introduced the program in her health class, and Clay became active “after he left my class.”

Clay earned the designation through accumulating points for a series of actions. He began working on the online program in January.

The emphasis on nutrition and fitness is in its sixth year, Wiley said, after an email “from the boss man,” Superintendent Will Schofield, encouraging the program. She “took it to heart,” Wiley said.

Clay accumulated the required 45,000 points through in-school and home activities. He explained he advocated for healthy breakfasts in school, eating a banana with one student.

He also said he compared sugar in drinks by making posters. One bottle of Gatorade has as much sugar as 16 chocolate chip cookies, for example.

Wiley noted Clay would “attach baggies of sugar under the cans” to illustrate his point. He generally did three drinks per poster.

He said he also preached nutrition to his family, and he ran in the 5K Fit Families race. Clay is part of the school’s running club, which goes to the North Hall Community Center on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“We try to run 30 minutes without stopping,” he said, and he has completed about 4 miles.

Wiley pointed out that Clay “came out of elementary school already into fitness.” He said he does not eat potatoes, except for “a little bit of potato chips and sweet potatoes once in awhile.”

He plays football and basketball in addition to running.

Wiley said North Hall Middle is a “TD school” in the Fuel Up program. She credited the Atlanta Falcons with helping the school “a lot.”

She also touted Carroll Daniel Construction, which will pay for Clay’s mother to fly to Indianapolis, the Junior Trojan football program, for which Clay plays, and the school PTO, which both also helped with funding. The Southeast United Dairy Industry Associated also helped the school, she said.

Clay will be president of the school’s wellness committee in the fall. Wiley already is planning for North Hall Middle to move up in the national rankings of the Fuel Up program.

She said the North Hall is “a bronze school now” and expects to move to silver in 2016-17 and gold in 2017-18 because Clay will be in the seventh and then eighth grades.

“Here’s our big battle: We try to talk teachers into not making candy the treat of the day,” Wiley said.

She added, “We really push water.”

Clay and Wiley are planning a 5K walk or run for the school next year to raise money for buying “healthy” vending machines.

“I’d love to see some nuts or healthy snacks” available to buy, Wiley said.

She noted the school’s “ice cream day” this year did not include a yogurt alternative. The health council “pitched a fit,” she said and got that changed. The yogurt sold out.

“We’re not against treats, Willey said.

“Just not every day — sparingly,” Clay added.

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