2 years ago

Revolutionary PhysEd program could put a dent in Alabama’s childhood obesity problem

Children made healthy snacks at a recent HEAL event in Vestavia Hills. (Photo: Karim Shamsi-Basha)

A six-time world champion athlete and former stuntwoman has figured out a way to fight Alabama’s childhood obesity epidemic, and its sweeping across the state.

HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) is a Birmingham-based organization that is revolutionizing physical education curriculum in elementary schools. HEAL converts physical education class time into more of a personal training experience for students.

Christy Swaid founded HEAL in 2002. Swaid is a six-time professional watercraft racing champion and a former stuntwoman for television and film. She married world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Swaid N. Swaid and moved to Birmingham. She and Dr. Swaid have two sons together.

“HEAL is a spin-off of trying to be good at being a mother, which is the toughest extreme sport I think I’ve ever engaged in and the most fun,” she told AL.com.

After a few years of testing and organization, HEAL was started as a pilot program in 10 elementary schools. From that pilot program, 75% of students improved their fitness and 100% of students were eating healthier foods.

HEAL now operates in over 95 schools in Alabama and serves over 17,500 students and their families. The program is meant to be more enjoyable for students and the curriculum lays a foundation for healthy living. Physical Education teachers are trained on how to teach the curriculum, and it also works with families to offer tips for exercising and preparing healthy meals at home.

Since its founding, HEAL has been endorsed by the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health. The HEAL program helps schools fulfill federal wellness requirements, including health education, physical education, nutrition services, health promotion for staff, and family/community involvement.

Molly Killman, Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity Division for the Alabama Department of Public Health said, “HEAL is a valuable tool for schools in Alabama that helps all students to enjoy physical activity, learn healthy food habits, and gain self confidence.”

HEAL has just reached another milestone. Walker County has dedicated itself to implementing HEAL in every elementary school in the county. Walker County has one of the highest rates of obesity in the state. Glenda Wilson, School Safety and Technology Coordinator for the Walker County Board of Education was the impetus behind this decision.

“HEAL seemed to be the ultimate vehicle to accomplish making our county aware of how to become healthier individuals,” she said. “What a better way than to start with our students! This program not only teaches students about nutrition and physical activity but also allows children to practice what they learn on a regular basis.”

With the help of the Carol M. White Physical Education for Progress (PEP grant), Walker County was a warded a $55,000 grant to spread HEAL to more schools. Today all Walker County and Jasper City elementary schools use the HEAL program.

Wilson said the first step in bringing HEAL to all of Walker County was making sure the superintendent was on board. After that, Wilson found teachers she knew would be excited and passionate about the program. Their enthusiasm helped make others interested and bring the program to each school.

Mrs. Swaid and HEAL continue to strive for the health of Alabama’s children. HEAL is still looking to expand to more elementary schools and to grow the program to also include middle and high schools.


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13 hours ago

Alabama wins private property rights case against Obama-era regulations

In a victory for private property rights this week, the federal government agreed to reconsider rules adopted during the Obama-era that unreasonably restrict the freedom of Americans to use their land.

“We are encouraged that the Trump administration has agreed to revisit these rules, which threaten property owners’ rights to use any land that the federal government could dream that an endangered species might ever inhabit,” Alabama Attorney General Marshall said in a statement.

Why this matters: Under these rules, unelected federal bureaucrats could designate a piece of private property as “critical habitat” for an endangered species even if the land doesn’t contain that particular species and, moreover, doesn’t even contain some of the features needed to support that species. Use of the land would then be severely limited. 


The details:

— The state filed a lawsuit, Alabama v. National Marine Fisheries Service, in November of 2016 challenging the rules, calling them “an unlawful federal overreach.”

— Nearly 20 other states joined the lawsuit, along with four large trade associations.

— The settlement forces federal agencies to submit revised rules for public review within 60 days and retains our freedom to file another lawsuit if their new rules are as excessive as the old ones.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

13 hours ago

Jeff Sessions is right to sue California for ignoring federal immigration laws

America may be a country of immigrants, but it’s also a country of laws. No one is exempt from those laws regardless of what some local officials in sanctuary cities may think.

As you may have seen on the news recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a lawsuit against the State of California for failure to completely cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.  I stand with AG Sessions’ decision.

From the mayors and local politicians disregarding federal immigration law to the illegal immigrants they are prioritizing over American citizens, it’s about time we hold these lawless individuals accountable.


The “leaders” in these cities are violating their oath of office and the Constitution.  They should be immediately removed from their positions and the illegal immigrants they are protecting should be deported. Period.

I agree with President Trump that we need to strengthen our borders.  We should build the wall and we should continue to support law enforcement’s crackdown on violent foreign gangs like MS-13.

These efforts mean nothing though if illegal immigrants and criminals can continue to seek refuge in some of our country’s largest cities.

It boils down to fairness, safety and what it means to be a sovereign nation.

A country without borders is hardly a country at all. I’m fed up with seeing the tax dollars from hard-working families across East Alabama go to cities who snub their nose at the very ideals that make America great.  Congress should withhold funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to uphold federal law.

President Trump has proven his tough stance on illegal immigration is much more than just campaign rhetoric. He has already done so much to curtail our illegal immigration crisis but he can’t do it alone.

Elected officials – from the state and local level to Members of Congress – must do their part.

And if they refuse, then they aren’t fit for public service.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a Republican from Saks.

(Image:U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Flickr)

15 hours ago

WATCH: Cam Newton’s leadership message resonates with Boy Scouts

When Cam Newton speaks, people listen.

The Carolina Panthers quarterback had the full attention of the audience at the 11th annual American Values Luncheon.

Boy Scouts were among attendees that filled the meeting room at the North Exhibition Hall of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.


Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn joined Newton during a question and answer session. Famous for leading the Auburn Tigers to the 2010 National Championship under Malzahn’s leadership, Newton’s talk followed in the tradition of several other football greats, including Nick Saban, Shaquille O’Neal and Bo Jackson.

Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Jesse Lewis Sr. and Jimmy Rane were honored at the luncheon for their contributions to the community.

Newton shared his life experiences and lessons learned.

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

15 hours ago

Celtic Pride! Joel Blankenship shares his Irish roots with The Ford Faction

Joel Blankenship makes his weekly return to The Ford Faction to talk the St. Patrick’s Day parade held in Birmingham and what the holiday means to him.  Joel mentions the law that can be passed to put Police K9’s in schools to help sniff out guns or drugs.  He provides feedback on what this could mean for schools and how it will benefit the need for police K9’s.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Alabama Rep. Roby thanks Air Force secretary for decision to bring F-35s to Montgomery

U.S. Representative Martha Roby participated in a defense appropriations subcommittee hearing this week where she expressed her appreciation to Secretary Heather Wilson for the Air Force’s decision to base F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.

Roby also discussed other military-related programs in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, including helicopter training at Fort Rucker near Enterprise and the professional education programs at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.

(Image: Representative Martha Roby/YouTube)