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Friendship Elementary to hold wellness night
Free pedometers will be handed out
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Family Wellness Night

When: 6 to 9 tonight
Where: Friendship Elementary, 4450 Friendship Road, Buford
Contact: 770-932-1223

Friendship Elementary School usually kicks off the school year with a curriculum night, but this year, things are a little different.

"We decided to change up some of our PTO meetings. We decided since we became a wellness school we would change directions of activities and we'd do a family wellness night," Principal Berry Walton said.

The school will play host to chef Ethan Stowell, Olympic gymnast Kathy Johnson-Clarke and celebrity trainer Andrea Riggs as part of the event.

Following the school's PTO meeting, students, parents and faculty will learn about childhood obesity, healthy cooking, key fitness elements and other wellness-related topics. Free pedometers will be distributed to all attendees and Friendship Elementary students will also enter a contest for a chance to win an Xbox 360 Kinect console and sports game.

"We asked (Walton) what he wanted to focus on. He selected physical fitness, nutrition and stress management," said Jacob Weiers, school wellness coordinator for Hall County Schools. "We wanted to get a round approach to wellness ... it's much more than just physically active."

Students and parents will learn how to make flavored water at home with fresh fruit and how to select quality fruits and vegetables and participate in a physical activity competition.

"They'll get the kids up and moving and teach them how to train their body," Weiers said.

Family Wellness Night is being done in partnership with UnitedHealthcare and United Health Foundation.

"This event brings together the most important and influential people in every child's life — their families and their educators," Rick Elliot, chief executive officer for UnitedHealthcare of Georgia, said in a news release. "Together with Hall County Schools, we are working to ensure that our kids know how to live well, eat well and enjoy the benefits of a fit and healthy lifestyle."

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said Family Wellness Night was one of the most impressive PTO events he's seen in his career.

"Hall County is UnitedHealthcare's pilot district in trying to combat childhood obesity. Friendship is the first school to have wellness as its theme," he said.

This is Friendship Elementary's first year as a wellness school. Walton said the main goal was to have kids moving 60 minutes every day, both in before and after-school activities and in the classroom.

He said he hopes this evening will have a good crowd to learn about the school's new mission.

"One of the focuses we wanted wasn't just to educate but to leave what we call a passport, an idea, with them so they can make steps to a healthier life," Weiers said.