Kingstree, S.C. — The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation presented a $150,000 check to the Williamsburg County School District at an event here today. The grant will be used to implement the Organ Wise Guys® comprehensive school program in all Williamsburg County elementary schools over the next three years, including hiring a school nurse to oversee the program.
The OrganWise Guys (www.OrganWiseGuys.com) is a comprehensive preschool and elementary school curriculum built around a group of engaging characters that personify the major organs of the body. The goal is to teach children and adults about the importance of eating well and being physically active. The school-based program has been implemented in thousands of schools around the nation.
“It is clear that healthy students learn and function better in all settings, and have greater potential to live long, productive lives. Having the tools and resources to reach our students, their parents or guardians, and quite frankly, the community at large, through such a practical and viable program, is a phenomenal opportunity for this county,” said Yvonne Jefferson-Barnes, Superintendent of Williamsburg County Schools.
“The Organ Wise Guys Program does a great job of teaching our students and their caregivers the importance of healthy lifestyles and food choices, not only for the activities they wish to enjoy today, but for those which they will surely wish to be involved in, and with, further down the road. The importance of good health is something that cannot be spoken of too often, or too soon. We are all very excited regarding the implementation of this wonderful program that focuses on healthy eating, exercise, obesity prevention and other lifesaving nuggets,” Jefferson-Barnes added.
BlueCross Foundation Executive Director Harvey Galloway said: “Official statistics show that 80 percent of Williamsburg County adults and half of its student population are overweight or obese, and this increases the risk for chronic bad health. We believe the Williamsburg school district will use these funds to make an impact on our younger generation to learn to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Williamsburg County School District will implement the program first at Greeleyville Elementary and Hemingway Elementary, then at D.P. Cooper Elementary and Anderson Primary in year two. The program will start at Kenneth Gardner Elementary and the District Magnet School of the Arts in year three of the grant.
Today’s event was part of a series that the foundation is hosting around the state to present its grants and honor the recipients in front of community and business leaders. Since the foundation was established in 2003, it has allocated more than $40.4 million in South Carolina to address issues such as childhood health, community health, mental health, obesity, diabetes, nursing and health research, and the increasing need for free medical clinics.
Williamsburg County School District, located in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina, comprises one career and technology center, three high schools, three middle schools, six elementary schools (one of which is a Magnet School of the Arts) and one primary school. The school district serves approximately 5,000 students enrolled in child development through 12th grade. Approximately 92 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunch.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation (www.bcbsscfoundation.org) is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Its mission is to promote the health of South Carolinians and to expand access to health care in South Carolina for the economically disadvantaged by supporting integrated research, education and community service.