LSU AgCenter partners with Northshore groups for school fitness

Johnny Morgan  |  11/30/2018 2:58:25 PM

(11/28/18) MANDEVILLE, La. — The LSU AgCenter has joined forces with a number of partners to launch health and fitness programs at schools on the Northshore.

Recently in Mandeville, representatives from the AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Health, Tobacco Free Living, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Mandeville school system and PTA revitalized the playground at Mandeville Middle School.

The group used stencils to paint new markings for playground games.

The purpose of the coalition is to improve the health and quality of life of Louisianans by mobilizing communities through implementing policy, systems and environmental changes in order to build healthier communities, said Valerie Vincent, LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences regional coordinator.

“The primary goals of the program are to improve Louisiana’s health ranking and increase the community’s awareness and knowledge around improving health,” Vincent said.

The coalition is taking a systematic, community-driven approach that is expected to increase knowledge related to healthy behaviors.

“It is expected that these changes will improve physical activity and nutrition, reduce obesity, and prevent and control chronic diseases among residents,” Vincent said.

The Healthy Communities Coalition on the Northshore was formed to address these needs.

“Through this coalition, we have held community forums and conducted needs assessments,” she said.

Topic areas include chronic disease and healthy lifestyle promotion, access to care and behavioral health.

“Through this coalition, we are seeking to support healthy lifestyle promotion practices, increase access to healthy foods and beverages, and increase physical activity opportunities,” Vincent said.

The program focuses on improving access to and increasing participation in physical activity. The playground stencil project encourages development of fundamental movement and motor skills while creating environments that encourage physical activity.

“We are painting these playground stencils to not only encourage increased physical activity, but the community painting days serve as hands-on coalition and team-building days for residents and organizations to work together to improve their community,” Vincent said.

Daniel Gaines, physical education teacher at the school, said the PTA and others have joined with the AgCenter to create opportunity for students to have more activity at recess.

“We still have 10 minutes of recess after lunch each day, so this will be great to help the children get some physical activity,” Gaines said.

In addition to the painted playground stencils, the coalition partners work together on other projects to help improve the health outcomes of residents.

“We partner with the AgCenter in order to do some prevention of chronic diseases,” said Brittny Costella, of the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

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The LSU AgCenter has joined forces with several partners to create health and fitness programs at schools on the Northshore. From left are Tammy Fadaol (PTA), Julie Champagne (Mandeville Middle School), Lauren Rickels (PTA), Deb Sellers (PTA), Sallie McLaughlin (PTA), Valerie Vincent (LSU AgCenter), Brittny Costella (Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center), Jessica Griffin (PTA), Daniel Gaines (Mandeville Middle School), Shannon Holland (PTA) and Darnell Epstein (PTA). Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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Valerie Vincent, LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences regional coordinator, standing, works with partners on a health and fitness program to revitalize the playground at Mandeville Middle School. She used stencils to create games to increase physical activity at the school. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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