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BJC School Outreach helps students dance their way to health in flash mob event

More than 400 Saint Louis Public School students, staff and faculty take part in a flash mob dance event May 4 at Busch Stadium. | Photos by Tim MudrovicBJC | More than 400 Saint Louis Public School (SLPS) students, staff and faculty took steps — dance steps — to improve their health and combat obesity at the fourth annual Let’s Move! STL Move Your Body Flash Mob, May 4 at Busch Stadium.

The event is sponsored by Let’s Move! STL and the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities initiative, in partnership with SLPS, BJC School Outreach and Youth Development, the City of St. Louis Department of Health, and Aetna.

Students, staff and faculty performed three dance routines in the stadium’s Ford Plaza area, including Beyoncé’s “Move Your Body” routine, the “Gimme 5” dance to Kids Bop “Uptown Funk,” and the newly choreographed “Dynamite” routine.

“Having fun while being active is important to encourage life-long, healthy habits,” says Erica Oliver, BJC School Outreach and Youth Development lead community health partner. “The planning and practice that prepare participants for this event are great ways to get people moving together and build community.”

“The Flash Mob is an example of an amazing collaboration between the SLPS school district and the community,” says Leanne White, SLPS project director. “By partnering with the City of St. Louis, BJC School Outreach and Youth Development, Aetna and the Missouri Foundation for Health, we provide SLPS students, as well as students across Missouri and the nation, the opportunity to experience an event that has the capacity of enhancing physical fitness and well-being, while having fun.”

Jackie Joyner-KerseeIn a nod to the significance given to the date by Star Wars fans (“May the Fourth/Force Be With You Day), the event included appearances and dancing by Jedi knights, storm troopers and Chewbacca. Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the guest of honor, addressing the participants about the power of hard work and determination.

Last year, more than 52,000 students, teachers and community partners statewide participated in the flash mob event. This year, the event included participants in neighboring states Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

“Let’s Move! STL enjoys being a part of this exciting movement that has grown to impact so many families,” says Melissa Ramel, the Let’s Move! STL coordinator for the City of St. Louis Department of Health. “The fact that there continues to be increased interest and growing excitement around improving the health and physical activity of students, staff and faculty is inspirational. Families, communities and organizations are getting on board to get healthy and have fun in the process, a win for the body, mind and soul. The partnerships that have been created from this annual event continue to blossom and prove vital to making the entire St. Louis community healthier.”

This innovative approach to increasing physical activity is catching on at the national level; SHAPE America-Society of Health and Physical Educators will share flash mob highlights and lessons learned on the SHAPE America website.

More about Let’s Move! STL and Healthy Schools Healthy Communities

Let’s Move! STL is a comprehensive initiative to combat and solve the challenge of obesity and diseases related to poor diet and fitness by leveraging community resources, coordinating partnerships and engaging the community toward the goal of zero obesity by 2020. The City of St. Louis Department of Health is the lead coordinating agency for Let’s Move! STL.

Healthy Schools Healthy Communities empowers communities to build a healthier future for children and families across Missouri. An initiative of Missouri Foundation for Health, Healthy Schools Healthy Communities brings together schools, community organizations, businesses, parents and residents to identify and push for changes that increase access to healthy food and physical activity where kids live, learn and play. Saint Louis Public Schools and BJC School Outreach and Youth Development are co-leading the initiative in the City of St. Louis.

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