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Brookhaven schools focus on physical fitness

The Brookhaven School District has begun the annual process of approving city schools’ health initiatives.

Principals Rita Robinson of Lipsey Middle School and David Martin of Brookhaven High School presented their yearly wellness plans at the recent school board meeting, and both proposals were met with overwhelming support.

“The plans just focus on the wellness of our staff and children,” Robinson said. “For example, we provide our kids with free recess time and an hour of P.E. to promote physical activity.”

Lipsey also holds student-oriented health fairs, and the Lion’s Club comes to the school once a year to administer free eye exams. Such efforts are designed to stress the importance of self-care and foster a greater appreciation of personal wellness.

“We try to talk to them about healthy choices,” she said. “And we always do our best to give them a balanced meal in the cafeteria.”

The school also offers “girl talk” and “boy talk” sessions, designed to help children cope with the physiological and emotional transitions from childhood to adolescence. The discussions cover standard issues like puberty and hygiene.

“We have a segment of parents that don’t have those conversations with their children,” Robinson said. “So, we answer any questions the kids might have.”

Likewise, Martin’s wellness plan for BHS encourages a balance between physical wellbeing and personal fulfillment.

“Some of our kids are exposed to healthy options for the first time when they come to school,” he said. “But that’s not the norm.”

To promote fitness, BHS incorporates physical activity into many of its yearly fundraisers, and the annual student/teacher basketball game is one of the school’s best-loved charity events.

“Instead of selling cupcakes to raise money, we do athletic stuff,” Martin said. “We focus on activities the kids want to do.”

Drug awareness is a big part of Martin’s health initiative. He believes the more his students know about protecting themselves, the better.

Brookhaven High also follows a series of health mandates laid out by the Department of Education. For example, the school’s vending machines are turned off during lunchtime to encourage children to dine in the cafeteria.

“The state is fighting plenty of health issues,” Martin said. “Obesity is a big problem, and we are doing our part to help curb that problem.”