“The Be Healthy-Be Happy Inflatable Fun Run came about as a way to help educate our students, parents, teachers, and community about the importance of exercise, nutritional education, and parental involvement in the fight against childhood disease and obesity,” said Nita McAllister, the physical education teacher at Buhl. “I came up with the inflatable run because while our students enjoy running, and they love inflatables. Combining the two seemed like a perfect fit. I wanted to choose an activity where families could be involved with their children and also have fun and get exercise at the same time.”
McAllister said the fun run will also give families the opportunity to meet vendors in the area who can provide nutritional meal choices, physical activity venues, and health care providers. Buhl teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBS) and Healthy Eating Active Living of Alabama (HEAL) after McAllister learned of a BCBS grant at a conference she attended.
McAllister applied for the grant in March 2017 and was awarded $10,000 – which will be presented at the fun run in the form of a giant check. The grant will support teaching more nutritional games, purchasing sports equipment, and holding PE family nights to involve parents, as well as building a multi-purpose community field for teaching soccer, disc golf, football, and more.
HEAL, an organization that works with schools and provides a fun curriculum in how to teach children the importance of a healthy lifestyle, will also present Buhl with a HEAL school banner at the run. McAllister said her UAB professors contacted her with the idea of Buhl becoming a pilot school for the program’s research – and it paid off for her students, too.
“One of our students was a chosen as a HEAL HERO. A HEAL HERO is someone who makes changes not only to their fitness and lifestyle, but makes changes to their whole family’s way of being active and eating,” she said. “He was able to join in the Nick’s Kids Luncheon and now is a SUPERSTAR at our school.”
In addition to BCBS and HEAL, Buhl’s Adopt-A-School Partner, The Radiology Clinic, will also be at the fun run. The Radiology Clinic gives Buhl a yearly donation and is hands-on with any and every school activity, such as judging the talent show, reading to students, and more.
The Radiology Clinic’s staff, including Charlotte Williams, Monika Bush and Courtney Blue as well as retired CEO John Humber, has been helping McAllister organize the fun run and find sponsors for the event since June. The Tuscaloosa Music Club, Buhl’s other Adopt-A-School partner, will also be in attendance to help with the event.
McAllister said the fun run is more than just a way to blow off some steam. It’s a way to teach children about fitness and nutrition – knowledge that can stay with them and lead to a healthier, more productive life.
“The places children spend their time are the places that determine their behaviors. About one in three kids today are overweight or obese. Studies show that overweight kids are likely to become overweight or obese adults. This risk can lead to a number of serious health-related problems such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart related issues,” she said. “By promoting a healthy lifestyle at a young age, we are giving children and their families information that can help them fight obesity and improve their health.”
Children can easily implement healthier choices into their daily routine by eating nutritionally, like choosing a colorful plate with fruits and veggies, getting 60 minutes of physical activity, limiting screen time to two hours a day, getting 10 to 11 hours of sleep and limiting food and drink with high sugar content. Keeping students active and healthy is Buhl’s school-wide commitment, McAllister said.
“Our principal, Vanessa Clay, wrote a grant providing our students with daily healthy snacks of fruits and vegetables. She encourages our teachers to take their students out to recess and to provide Brain Breaks (physical activity during their academic learning) to our students,” McAllister said. “She also wrote a grant to begin an afterschool program for students to increase their physical activity and help with academics and cultural experiences. Our teachers will be providing students an education on growing vegetables and nutrition through the Schoolyard Roots program.”
McAllister said the fun run wouldn’t be possible without the support Buhl received while planning the event. The event has even received support from its neighbor counties – Jefferson, Pickens, and Walker counties – in the form of vendors and sponsorships.
“Even the State Parks (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) are supporting the event by providing State Parks gift cards to families,” she said. “Without the support of County Commissioner Reginald Murray, and Executive Board member Farrington Snipes, on the Tombigbee RC&D Council, the completion of our multi-purpose field would not be completed.”
The Be Happy-Be Healthy Inflatable Fun Run will have sponsors present offering prizes, gifts and more information about their services. Many opportunities will be available for students to get involved with after school athletic activities, as well as medical and dental services for families.
The fun run’s sponsors include: The Radiology Clinic, Weigh to Wellness (Birmingham), Tuscaloosa Lung, Critical Care & Sleep, Mitt Lary Family Practice (Dr. Malika Aryanpure), Pickens County Primary Care (Dr. Julia Boothe), Tide Wellness, West Alabama Pediatrics, Children and Teen Dental Group, Carrollton Drugs, MedCenter North, Tuscaloosa Integrative Family Medicine, Brion Hardin Construction and INKD Graphics (Walker County).
The events vendors will be as follows: T-Town Bounce, Chick-fil-A Northport, Alabama State Parks, Parks and Recreation Authority, Taste Buds, Sipsey Valley Youth Athletics, Buffalo Rock, Kim’s Gym, Northridge Fitness, The Gym (Gordo), Bailey’s Tiger Rock, UpSurge, Leland Lanes, TCBY and First Tee.