Green Acres Middle School in Birmingham utilizing $10,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama for 6th grade health programs

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Green Acres Middle School sixth-graders. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Green Acres Middle School in Birmingham is getting healthier after receiving a Be Healthy School grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. Green Acres is one of 33 schools across the state to receive a grant this year, and to say they’re excited is an understatement. Learn more about the grant and how they will use it.

The grant 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama’s Be Healthy School Grant Program is an effort by the company to prevent childhood obesity in Alabama, which is a major health concern for our state. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama has the sixth highest obesity rate in the country. Childhood obesity is associated with many negative health outcomes, including high cholesterol, breathing problems and diabetes, so prevention is paramount. 

Schools who receive Be Healthy grants use funds for health and wellness programs emphasizing exercise, nutrition and parental involvement. This year, 33 schools received grants totaling $324,000.

Jeff Adams of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama presenting Green Acres Middle School with their Be Healthy School grant check for $10,000. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

This year’s grant recipients are below:

  • Appalachian High (Oneonta)
  • Belgreen Elementary (Russellville)
  • Brent Elementary (Brent)
  • Brewbaker Primary (Montgomery)
  • Cahaba Elementary (Trussville)
  • Coosada Elementary (Millbrook)
  • Dixie Elementary (Opelika)
  • Double Springs Elementary (Double Springs)
  • Eura Brown Elementary (Gadsden)
  • Fruitdale High (Fruitdale)
  • Green Acres Middle (Birmingham)
  • Greensboro Elementary (Greensboro)
  • G.W. Trenholm Primary (Tuscumbia)
  • Headland Middle (Headland)
  • Jackson Intermediate (Jackson)
  • Jackson Steele Elementary (Hayneville)
  • Lincoln Elementary (Lincoln)
  • Lynn Elementary (Lynn)
  • MacMillan International Academy (Montgomery)
  • Mary B. Austin Elementary (Mobile)
  • Mt. Olive Elementary (Mt. Olive)
  • Odenville Elementary (Odenville)
  • Pearl Haskew Elementary (Irvington)
  • Piedmont Elementary (Piedmont)
  • Pike County Elementary (Brundidge)
  • Robinson Elementary (Birmingham)
  • Speake School (Danville)
  • Striplin Elementary (Gadsden)
  • University Charter School (Livingston)
  • Valley Jr. High (Jasper)
  • Webb Elementary (Webb)
  • West Decatur Elementary (Decatur)
  • Woodstock Elementary (Woodstock)

Why apply?

“We wanted to get the kids [away] from being on electronics all afternoon,” said Kathryn Fluker, Green Acres Middle School’s library media specialist. She led the school’s grant application after hearing about it a couple of years ago.

Kathryn Fluker of Green Acres Middle. Photo via Taylor Babington for Bham Now

Fluker worked alongside Green Acres Middle’s athletic director and P.E. teacher, Ronnie Davis. The two said they consistently push each other to be healthier, and they wanted to take their efforts school-wide. 

Where will the funds go?

The grant will be used for sixth grade health programs, including a science class focused on wellness and new equipment for P.E. classes.

Be Healthy School grant assembly at Green Acres Middle. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

“We do the best we can with what we have, but it’s always helpful to have more assets available to us,” Davis said. Doing the best with what they have has meant getting creative for P.E. classes in the past. 

“We play off-the-wall kickball because we don’t have bases for kickball,” he said. “We use a volleyball for a ball.” 

When he heard the news that Green Acres was awarded the grant, Davis was thrilled. “There are so many things we need and things we can do with this.” 

Getting healthy at school and at home

Students check out healthy snacks at Green Acres Middle’s Be Healthy School assembly. Photo via Mattew Niblett for Bham Now

Although the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama grant will fund in-school initiatives, parental involvement is a crucial component of the Be Healthy School Grant Program’s success. 

“Parental support is huge,” said Green Acres Middle principal Anthony Oliver. 

Kathryn Fluker echoed that sentiment. “It’s important for [students] to know about being healthy at this age so they can carry it through the rest of their life. We want them to excel and take it home to their little siblings and family members,” she said. 

Interested in applying?

Since 2012, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has awarded over $1.8 million to 200 Alabama schools. If you know of a school that would benefit from a Be Healthy School grant, the application process opens in January 2020. More information can be found here

Congratulations, Green Acres! Let’s Be Healthy, Birmingham.

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Taylor Babington
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