Coca Cola Foundation Presents NIA with $25,000
to H.E.L.P. Students at PS 503
Hundreds of children and parents will benefit from a unique school-year nutrition education and physical fitness program, thanks to The Coca-Cola Foundation’s awarding of a $25,000 Active Healthy Living Grant to NIA Community Services Network. The Health/Exercise Lifestyle Plan (HELP) aims to instill healthy behaviors, including physical activity and smart nutritional choices.
The check presentation ceremony at PS 503 provided a ray of sunshine on a freezing December afternoon. After PS 503's cheerleading squad warmed up the audience with a chant of "Shout it! Stay fit!," 400 children and dozens of parents listened to speeches by NIA's CEO Mary Anne Cino, PS 503's principal Bernadette Fitzgerald, NIA President Michael Bové, New York State Senator Diane Savino, New York State Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate, Jr., and Coca-Cola Company spokeswoman Harriet Tolve. Nutritionist Christina Rivera led a lively discussion about food groups, whole grains, and healthy choices. The entire assemblage then marched out of the auditorium and into the schoolyard as PS 503's chorus provided a soundtrack of seasonal favorites. While engaged in fun exercises (skipping, walking sideways, walking backwards), the students received pedometers and bottles of water as everyone walked around the outdoor track.
Running through the school year, the HELP program focuses on organized, indoor and outdoor activities that teach healthy habits and expose each child to the basic skills needed to play independently in school and out of school. The program also supports families, helping them to learn the same skills, the better to reinforce each lesson.
Students in the Health/Exercise Lifestyle Plan program will:
- obtain knowledge, awareness, attitude and skills to make healthier lifestyle choices regarding eating and physical activities;
- learn skills to become advocates for healthy eating and physical activity at their schools, among their peers and in their community; and
- acquire teamwork and interpersonal communication skills through motivation and guidance from teachers, specialists, parents and their peers.