Local school districts celebrate Healthy Schools Healthy Community initiative's ending

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MOBERLY - Moberly and Westran Public School Districts celebrated their Healthy Schools Healthy Community initiative on Wednesday. 

The initiative is a five-year grant program funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. The celebration highlighted the schools' accomplishments during the five years and looked at how to sustain a healthy community without the initiative. The event had nationally-known keynote speaker, Dr. JoAnne Owens-Nauslar.

“The biggest issue that we always face is to get people to buy-in," she said. "The word 'change' really freaks people out. So, what are the things that we can do that don't get us quite as freaked out about: 'You want me to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week?' Absolutely!"

Owens-Nauslar has been in health education for 50 years. Her speech was about the sustainability and energy needed to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout the community.

“In communities of 25,000 or under, school is the focal point for community," she said. "These kids are 30 percent of the population and 100 percent of the future. If we're not willing to put something into what we know about high-level wellness and living longer and better, we won't get any return."

Moberly Public Schools Wellness Coordinator Laura Heimann said the initiative allowed the schools to get new water bottle refilling stations and walking trails. She said she believes the initiative put pieces in place that will allow the community to sustain healthy practices.

“We've been talking about sustainability for most of the time," she said. "We're working closely with our administration and our building principals to find out what that looks like in each building, and we want to continue the great progress."

Westran School District has one year left to be a part of the grant program.