So what West Jackson elementary school did First Lady Michelle Obama visit? The answer is none other than:
b) Pecan Park Elementary School
On Wednesday, March 9, 2010, Mrs. Obama traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to promote her Let’s Move! campaign (click here for photos). The goal of Let’s Move! is to combat childhood obesity by empowering parents & caregivers, providing healthy foods in school, improving access to healthy/affordable foods, and increasing physical activity. During her visit to Jackson, she addressed students at Pecan Park Elementary School and Brinkley Middle School.
When it comes to rankings, Mississippians know the story all too well. Too often, we are the last on the right lists and first on the wrong lists. That isn’t to say that there are exceptions because Mississippi is full of exceptions to this condition, and of those, we can surely be proud. However, when it comes to obesity, Mississippi is king. For six consecutive years, Mississippi has ranked #1 for obesity in a report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Ouch!
Something needs to be done right? Some may wonder “who’s at fault” while others may wonder “what can I do?” Adopting the four pillars of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign may be a good start. The fact that people are attempting to change to unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles of children is an even better start. Mississippi dilemma with obesity is by far a generational problem and fostering a generation of healthy eating, mile running children may be key to solving it.
Now, back to Pecan Park Elementary. Mrs. Obama’s visit to this school was not by accident. Take a look at the video below and you’ll hear Governor Haley Barbour rattle off a list of steps that the students at this school are taking to being healthy. These steps include the construction of a quarter-mile walking trail with cardiovascular stations and the installation of Let’s Get Fit and KaBOOM! playgrounds. KaBOOM! is where Pecan Park Elementary needs your help.
Pecan Park Elementary School is a finalist in the KaBOOM! Play Day contest. This past September, 1,600 communities participated in this nationwide competition by hosting a Play Day. To become a finalist, the school had to host a Play Day. Pecan Park’s Play Day kicked off the Play Day with an energetic rendition of the morning routine, including a song entitled “Play!” and a Hula Hoop Challenge with a representative from the Mayor’s office, teachers, and the Assistant Principal. The students also played games inspired by other countries and painted stepping stones and planted flowers to beautify the area.
With Play Day out of the way, the hard work was just beginning. Remember, 1,600 other schools were seeking to win too. Pecan Park rallied the support of the community who posted words of support on KaBOOM’s website. Principal Wanda Quon ensured that KaBOOM’s checklist of requirements was completed and the school was entered as an official contestant.
Now, only 10 schools remain in the contest and Pecan Park Elementary is among these finalists. The grand prize is $10,000 while the prize for second place is $7,500. There will also be prizes awarded to three runner-ups for $2,500. These funds are awarded to the school and are to be used for future play space enhancements. These Play Day Grants are offered by KaBOOM! through the support of Mott’s and NFL Play 60.
Here’s how you can help:
- Pecan Park Elementary needs your vote! Go to the KaBOOM! Play Day website, register to vote in the contest, and submit your vote for Pecan Park Elementary.
- Make sure to return to the site everyday. You can vote once every 24 hour period. The last day to vote is November 30th.
- Spread the word and encourage others to vote. You can do this on Facebook, Twitter, by phone, in casual conversation…anything that’ll encourage others to help Pecan Park win. Remember, Pecan Park is the only Mississsippi school on the finalists list. That means that if Pecan Park wins, MISSISSIPPI WINS!
Mississippi may be last on a lot of lists, but this is one thing in which we can be first.
Video of First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Pecan Park.