As part of a county-wide Wellness Champion Initiative, Mt. Hebron’s own physical education and health teacher, Ms. Melissa McCarthy, has started an Aerobic Conditioning and Weight Training class during sixth period, open to staff members and students hoping to strengthen their physical and emotional health with fun exercise routines.
As the staff leader for the Wellness Champion Initiative, Ms. McCarthy made it her goal to make not only Mt. Hebron’s community a healthier one, but also a happier one by promoting exercise to relieve stress and tension.
“The county has a focus on everyone’s overall well-being, and I’m the person at Hebron helping staff members lead their most healthy life. I’m here to be a good resource and motivate others. It’s not about just your physical health, but your mental, emotional and social health as well,” said Ms. McCarthy.
In addition to hosting exercise classes during sixth period, she holds activities such as 10-minute massages for staff members after school in an effort to reduce stress.
On Jan. 6, the first day of her sixth period training class, Ms.McCarthy invited Angela Franklin from Brickhouse Cardio to lead instruction in Zumba. This class was a major success with 40 staff members and students participating. Ms. McCarthy has planned for another guest, Mt. Hebron Spanish teacher Ms. Lauren Baylor, to lead a class in Pure Barre on Feb. 6.
Zumba and pure barre are both popular fitness trends that promote a healthy lifestyle while participating in a fun, enjoyable workout. Zumba is a type of aerobic dance that works all parts of the body. It helps relieve stress with the help of some upbeat and invigorating music. On the other hand, Pure Barre is a type of workout that targets specific areas of the body to help tone and sculpt them. Pure Barre also promotes a healthy, positive mindset in a stress-free environment.
Howard County has recently turned its focus on promoting wellness and physical activity, especially in schools. Additions to the Wellness Policy have made changes to the school system. For example, the snacks previously offered from vending machines were switched to healthier options, and the school lunches were changed to be more nutritious. Although met with opposition, “Healthy Howard” has significantly impacted the school system’s focus on social, emotional and physical health.
As stress mounts during midterms and course recommendations, it is especially important for staff and students to spend time focusing on maintaining their stress at a healthy level. Studies have shown that teenagers have been experiencing elevated stress levels due to rigorous academics and the prevalence of social media. Ms. McCarthy’s role as a resource and role model is imperative for a healthier, happier community at Mt. Hebron.