BRIGHTON, TN (WMC-TV) - More than forty percent of Mid-South children are overweight or obese. But teachers at Brighton Elementary say if caught early, this trend can slow down.
For fourth grade students at Brighton elementary, exercising is a thrill.
"It's just fun being able to have fun in class instead of sitting down and doing work," Brighton 4th grader Nolan Combs said.
"I like it that we can have a bunch of fun while we're still in class," 4th grader Whitney Easley added.
Through a new pilot program organized by LeBonheur Children's Medical Center, students in Brighton focus on their health through a curriculum called Eat Well and Keep Moving.
The curriculum is taught inside the classroom, and includes physical activity, information on healthy food choices, and ways to reduce time in front of the television and computer.
"If we teach them these healthy habits - try to make some interventions now - we're hoping to see that trend change," said LeBonheur Director of Health Services Cindy Hogg.
The Tipton County fourth graders also receive free health screenings which include height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose and total cholesterol.
School leaders say the program is working.
"The kids do want to take care of themselves. They just need to be taught how and I think this program will help do that," Brighton Elementary assistant principal Greg Hudson said.
And students like Whitney Easley say they are getting into shape without even realizing it.
"If I don't exercise I just feel kind of lazy and sloppy, but when I do exercise I feel like I made the right choice and I feel a lot better," Easley said.
This pilot program runs the entire school year. Elementary students will be re-screened in May to see if their overall health is better than it was at the beginning of the year.