Richmond elementary school unveils health program that could spread citywide

All photos in this post are courtesy of Grant Elementary School

Every morning at Richmond’s Grant Elementary School, announcements over the intercom offer the nearly 700-person student body health information and tips.

During lunch period, students who are appointed as school health ambassadors head to the cafeteria with the mission of encouraging their schoolmates to choose fruits and vegetables over junk food.

And on a regular basis, experts promoting healthy living  give talks at the school on various subjects such as avoiding smoking or the importance of adequate sleep and physical activity.

Just those three simple health promotion initiatives, implemented at Grant Elementary in February as part of a wide-ranging program to teach young people about the importance of good health habits, have done a lot to raise awareness, according to school officials.

“Some students have stopped eating unhealthy snacks while many hide theirs when they see me or any of the ambassadors,” said project coordinator Dr. Raymond Chimezie. “Awareness is being created. The kids and teachers are invested. It’s working.”

On Thursday, the staff and students at Grant Elementary held an event in its cafeteria to introduce their Teenage Health Promotion and Education Project to the community. Their goal is to inspire the implementation of a similar program at other Richmond schools.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin shakes hands with Dr. Raymond Chimezie at Grant Elementary School event Thursday.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin shakes hands with Dr. Raymond Chimezie at Grant Elementary School event Thursday.

“Our program can help reduce the risks of obesity, violence, underage indulgence in alcohols, drugs, smoking, and related lifestyle diseases,” Chimezie said.

Program sponsors included DonorsChoose and Chevron Richmond, with help from a number of other community organizations.

Thursday’s event was attended by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and officials with the American Heart Association, the Women Infant and Children, Project Success, Covered California, Health for Schools and Communities as well as community members and students.

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Meet Grant Elementary School’s health ambassadors.

Below is a speech Chimezie read during the event.