(JONESBOROUGH, TN), October 2, 2018Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) today praised Jonesborough Middle School, Ballad Health Foundation and Niswonger Children’s Hospital for promoting physical activity for local students through the “Morning Mile Program.”  The Morning Mile is made possible by Ballad Health’s Niswonger Children’s Hospital to help children in Northeast Tennessee and Southeast Virginia develop healthy habits by getting them off to an active start every morning before the school day begins.

“This is a tremendous program to establish healthy habits that will benefit these students throughout their lives,” said Sen. Crowe, who visited Jonesborough Middle School this morning.  “As a sponsor of the program, I was extremely pleased to see the excitement of the students as they walked and ran this morning.  I was also very impressed with the research the students at this school were doing on the positive effects of exercise on attendance and grades, and improved physical and behavioral health.  I was amazed that at the 8th grade level, they were already studying how physical activity improves serotonin and endorphin levels and how they relate to the overall health and attitude of students.”

As a Jonesborough Middle School sponsor, Crowe donated $1,000 to help provide materials, prizes and incentives needed to encourage greater student participation.  He encouraged individuals and businesses to also sponsor a school.

“As Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman, I can attest to the need to improve the overall health of Tennesseans by developing healthy habits early in life,” added Crowe.  “Tennessee’s health status greatly impacts almost every aspect of our state’s well-being, from our economic prosperity to our overdependence on medication.  This program can have a dramatic effect on reducing the need for drugs due to the many health benefits of physical education.  I encourage local citizens and businesses to join me in this effort to improve the health of our students and state by sponsoring a school.”

“We are grateful for Senator Crowe’s support of the Morning Mile,” said Alan Levine, chairman and chief executive officer of Ballad Health. “Improving physical activity among school-age children is a major priority of Ballad Health, and partnering with our local schools through the Morning Mile program is one important way we can accomplish that. We have been delighted with the positive response from schools and students.”

Last year, more than 49,000 kids participated in the Morning Mile, completing over 325,000 miles. Since the program’s inception in 2014, Morning Mile participants have completed more than 1 million miles.

“The meeting with students this morning took me back to my days in middle school when students had much more time for physical activity,” added Crowe.  “Students now live in much faster-paced school environment where advanced technology and a heavier curriculum deters them from becoming as active as they were even two decades ago.  As I believe the research from the students at Jonesborough will show, this program will help these students both academically and physically.”

Crowe has invited the school and Ballad Health to talk about the Morning Mile Program and present their research findings to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Senate Education Committee next January when the 111th General Assembly convenes.

“If this Morning Mile Program could be taken statewide, I think we would see tremendous improvements,” he concluded.  “I look forward to hearing from school officials and representatives from Ballad about their progress in January.”

Companies or individuals businesses that want to sponsor area schools for the Morning Mile can call the Ballad Health Foundation at (423) 431-4875.



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