This Alabama non-profit is revolutionizing physical education in public schools
VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL), an Alabama-based non-profit opened its doors this week at a new headquarters, jump starting the game changing exercise and nutrition program aimed at helping families in the Yellowhammer State make healthier choices.
The ribbon cutting at the charity’s new headquarters Tuesday was attended by teachers, students, and parents from across the state, celebrating HEAL and its revolutionary Physical Education (PE) curriculum.
“This new headquarters enables HEAL to reach even more students and families and educate them about Healthy Eating Active Living,” said HEAL Founder and CEO Christy Swaid. “Not only are we making measurable results through exercise and nutrition education, we are now making a healthy improvement for families across Alabama.”
Swaid, a former professional athlete, first became interested in combatting the marked rise in obesity and obesity-related illnesses after she married her husband, neurosurgeon Dr. Swaid N. Swaid, and moved to Alabama in 2002.
Five years later Swaid had developed the HEAL curriculum and begun testing it through a pilot program in fifth-grade PE classrooms at 10 Alabama schools.
Since then, the program has spread to 85 other Alabama schools, reaching 15,000 students and their families.
“While we’re improving the health of students, we’re seeing families and teachers adopt the HEAL curriculum in their own lives at home,” said Swaid.
According to the organization, the new HEAL headquarters includes television broadcast facilities where HEAL programs can grow from schools to the greater public. Features including the, ‘HEAL Fitness Minute,’ and the, ‘HEAL Meal Minute,’ were premiered at the grand opening. These TV features may expand into broadcast programming which can carry HEAL out of the classroom and directly to homes, families and communities.
HEAL’s website gives an outline for their free curriculum, which provides teachers with the tools to help children get their 60 minutes of physical activity daily and develop healthy eating habits for life. A family component is also designed and implemented to get the whole family engaged in the learning process—thus supporting students’ efforts to get healthy and ultimately bettering the family overall.
“We’re offering a multi-generational health lesson, which can translate between children, their parents and help ensure healthy futures,” Swaid said. “With less disease and illness from youth obesity and lack of exercise, our goals could help lower future health care costs and empower a new generation of families who embrace healthy lifestyles.”
To learn more about HEAL or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit their website.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015