By Dana Delgado
When the announcement of a statewide challenge came across his desk, Bob Mabry didn’t hesitate, he ran with it.
The Human Resources Director for the Liberty Hill Independent School District said he believed it was an opportunity where the entire community could be engaged and the benefits would be life-changing. The challenge, “It’s Time Texas Community Challenge,” is a statewide health and fitness initiative presented by HEB grocery stores, which pits communities against other similar size communities. Other sponsors include BlueCross BlueShield of Texas and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
“It looked easy to implement, came at a great time, and I thought we could have fun with it,” said Director Mabry who quickly got the pledge of Mayor Connie Fuller and the City Council. “But if we participate, we want to win. That’s the Liberty Hill way.”
Individuals of all ages, local government officials, school district staff and representatives along with businesses and organizations can participate in the Challenge. Points are awarded for a variety of health-related activities including signing pledges, taking “healthy selfies” whenever eating healthy or participating in a physical activity, and utilizing the fitness or weight trackers provided. Anyone interested can register online at www.ittcommunitychallenge.com where additional information is also available. Individuals are encouraged to read the full requirements for each activity on the Challenge site before submitting. Questions may be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched on Jan. 8, Liberty Hill quickly surged to the top of its division by the second week of the Challenge with only 508 participants and was neck-and-neck with the City of Austin, which is in the major city category.
The Challenge officially ends at 5 p.m. on March 4 so Mabry is encouraging individuals and organizations and particularly businesses, to register as soon as possible. An $1,800 award will be presented to the top winners of each division.
“We want people to eat healthy and be involved in healthy activities,” Mabry said. “We want them to take the ball and run with it.”
In LHISD, a number of schools have taken the Challenge to heart. Bill Burden Elementary is doing a weight loss contest while Liberty Hill Elementary, in similar fashion, is doing a team weight loss contest that will extend through Spring Break.
At Liberty Hill Junior High, staff and faculty members are participating in a “Get Fit” Class, which is scheduled to run through the end of the school year.
“I think it’s awesome and it’s afterschool,” said junior high teacher Patience Lange.
“I’m much more motivated with having others to work out with,” added Donna Nowak, junior high librarian. “I’ve already lost five pounds and my blood pressure is down. The workouts have been great and so motivating.”
The junior high “Get Fit” group was organized by Sue Davidson, long-time coach and current science teacher.
“I am happy to inform you that 18 ladies have committed to the challenge this week,” Davidson said. “I expect more to sign up in the future. We discussed among ourselves the need to feel good at the end of the day, have wellness in our lives, and work on a nutritional plan to lose and/or gain weight.”
While she no longer coaches, Davidson said she is committed to helping others be health conscious and engaged in fitness because of all the benefits.
“I still want to maintain the awareness of fitness, nutrition, and a healthy mind-set as we teach every day,” she said. “Our group works out every day of the week. We work hard, have fun, laugh, decompress the day and leave with a wellness frame of mind. Our school nurse Sandra Duncan is taking vital stats such as blood pressure, pulse, oxygen and weight. We need beginning stats and finish stats to measure how far we have come when we finish at the end of school.”
According to Davidson, participants in the junior high group will maintain a fitness journal over the timeframe, which has been broken down into three six-week segments.
“Each participant keeps their stats on a daily and weekly basis of activity, time put in that activity, and what kind of activity was done,” Davidson said. “This helps to put the stats correctly in the Community Fitness Challenge. At the end of each six-week segment, we will take vital stats again and compare the two.”
For its commitment, the junior high school has gotten well-deserved community support.
Austin Nutrition, which supports the community with fitness and nutrition needs from their location in downtown Liberty Hill, prepared smoothies for the faculty last week.
Davidson emphasized that, “a healthy lifestyle is a must at any age. Even though we have a variety of ages, we all want and need this Get Fit group to continue. I am extremely proud of our group here at LHJHS. They are enthusiastic, fun, and determined to master the goals they have set for themselves.”