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Spout Springs wellness champion leading state, district in health
Tom Adam's blog was published on USDA website
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Erica Rosen, 7, and Matti Nelson, 7, play on scooter boards during physical education class at Spout Springs School of Enrichment on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture blog recently published a post from Spout Springs P.E. teacher Tom Adam about health and wellness in schools. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Tom Adam knows the lunch line isn’t the only place kids get nourishment at school.

Adam, the physical education teacher and “wellness champion” at Spout Springs School of Enrichment in Hall County, recently penned a blog post for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s official website. In it, he discussed the success Spout Springs and other Hall schools have had “watching kids have fun while learning to be healthy.”

“Hall County has had a lot of wellness initiatives in the last three or four years, and a lot of nationally recognized schools by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” Adam said. “We have the second most nationally recognized schools in the nation.”

Adam is an ambassador for the alliance, and Spout Springs is a Gold School in the alliance’s Healthy Schools Program for two years running.

The school, in line with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards, no longer uses food-based fundraisers, such as candy or bake sales. Instead, Spout Springs has one annual fundraiser called the Seminole Sprint, organized by the Parent Teacher Organization, which raised a total $47,000 last year.

“This particular blog post was really about our fundraiser,” he said. “I went to Washington last year and spoke to the undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, whose name is Kevin Concannon, and his staff, and told them some of our stories.”

This year, the Seminole Sprint will take place Oct. 9, with a pep rally the week before. Individuals and businesses can sponsor kids per lap.

In his post, Adam said he’s proud of the way his school has changed its culture, specifically using healthy activities to raise money.

“We believe it’s important to send a consistent message to our students that healthy behaviors don’t stop when they leave the cafeteria or the school campus,” Adam said in the USDA post. “Our community agrees with us.”

Georgia is the 10th most obese state in the country, according to Adam, with 35 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 overweight or obese.

Jacob Weiers, Hall County’s wellness coordinator, said he’s proud of the work all Hall schools are doing to implement wellness initiatives for their students.

“We’re very tied into the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and we use that pretty much as our base to build off of,” Weiers said. “That allows us to be able to look at every facet of our schools, from health education, physical education, student wellness, employee wellness, to the policies we have in place, nutrition and foods. It allows us to look at every single facet.”

Each school has a wellness action plan and a “wellness champion,” like Adam. Many teachers, including those at Spout Springs, have their students take “brain breaks,” to get up, stretch and be active for a few minutes.

“(Hall County) has made a lot of changes in our schools, and we at Spout Springs like to think we’ve helped them lead the way,” Adam said. “We were the only school that’s been gold in the state of Georgia, and now we’re gold twice.”

Adam is often contacted by people from other school districts and states, including Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina, asking to hear “how Spout Springs does it.”

“We want to pass it on and help everybody else,” he said. “It’s the sort of thing you want to pass on and have everybody do, because in the end it makes for a better school for the kids.”

To view Adam’s post, visit Adam’s blog on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

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