Beating the Heat in Mississippi - Action for Healthy Kids
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Beating the Heat in Mississippi

Winona Elementary School
Winona, Mississippi

Kids Walking on TrackThe warm months in Mississippi can lead to excessive heat on the playground. Many of the students at Winona Elementary School in Winona, Mississippi have conditions such as asthma, or they just become overheated quickly. Several students were not willing to engage fully in active play during recess and physical education due to becoming too hot and thirsty.

Knowing that it’s essential for students to stay hydrated and have the ability to be active outside, Winona made water access a top priority and put a plan into action. The school applied for and was awarded a Game On grant, sponsored by CSX, to install outdoor water fountains to help their students thrive. Three have already been installed, and there are plans to install more.

In addition to the water access project, the school is implementing active play initiatives in the classroom for days when outdoor recess is not an option. Assistant Principal Nikita Smith is very supportive of the new endeavor and said, “The teachers enjoy the outdoor water fountains because the beginning of school in August and the end of school in May can be miserably hot in Mississippi. We are also looking forward to the new ideas for indoor recess. This has always been movie time, so physical activities that can be shared by the class will be great for relieving some pent up energy.”

The school is already seeing positive results from this project. The school nurse, Amy Gammel, compiles monthly data on illnesses and has been able to track changes in asthma attacks and other problems associated with overheating on the playground. Comparing the number of asthma-related incidents over the two prior years to the time that the water access project was implemented, the school has seen a 59% decrease in asthma-related incidents during this time. The school has also observed students consuming more water daily and an increase in awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of water consumption.

Amy excitedly reported, “These programs have been great so far, but I can’t wait for the 90-degree days in late April and through May when they will be getting constant use. Not only will our kids with asthma be grateful, but so will our whole campus!”