Leading the nation in childhood obesity, Mississippi is the sixth state on Steve Stewart's ten state trek. A special education teacher by trade, Stewart is part of a group of educators and healthcare providers from Kentucky with a two-fold mission, to help students develop good grammar skills while getting fit.
'We're just a group of frustrated educators that just wanted to get something done!'
Three years ago Stewart says he took a hiatus from his teaching job to develop a program that could help teachers meet the mandates and strong recommendations they face from their superiors
'They're telling us to take time out of our teaching to get kids physically active, but then telling us to teach more. It's not possible.'
For more than a month Stewart has been cycling through states with the highest childhood obesity rates. Along the way he's raising awareness about his new program which is designed for students up to the second grade. He's distributing material for the program free to schools that agree to incorporate it into curriculum.
"It's been incredible because what we did was take traditional phonetic reinforcement activities and combined them with physical activity and put them on a format that's easily used by a teacher."
Next up for organizers of this effort is to raise $500,000. That money will be used to develop a new program that will be distributed free of charge to states that have the highest childhood obesity rates. The new program will be tailored for students up to the fifth grade.
After leaving Mississippi, Stewart plans to make stops in Alabama and Georgia. For more information on this initiative log on to integritychallenge.com.