South Carolina SCORE Project

Columbia: Creating an Academy for Healthier Lives

At Summit Parkway Middle School in Columbia, S.C., rigorous physical activity is the centerpiece of a magnet program that attracts students from six middle schools in the Richland 2 School District. The Academy of Exercise Physiology and Sports Medicine is intended to prepare students to pursue careers related to the support of healthy lifestyles.
At the time the curriculum was developed and the Academy was approved by the district, the school only owned a few aging pieces of Nautilus equipment and free weights. In May 2008, just as the Academy was about to be launched, Blue Cross Blue Shield stepped in and provided $100,000 to pay for state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes.
The 54 sixth-grade students in this year’s inaugural class spend 30 minutes each day rotating among the exercise equipment in single-gender classes. Through the program, the students also learn about nutrition and first-aid/CPR.
What students learn while walking or peddling also has applications in other disciplines, such as math and writing. Sixth-grader Tyra Trapp explained, “We have to figure our target heart rates and you have to add all kinds of stuff and distance.” She said a recent writing assignment required students to explain how one of the exercise machines helps them become fit.
One of the program’s few requirements for entry is that families of students have to agree to hold a seminar at home at least once a month to discuss the importance of good nutrition and physical fitness. “I can teach kids all day, but if the information doesn’t get home, especially the nutrition part, it’s no good,” said teacher Debbie Bernhagen.
The Academy is intended to be a three-year program. It started with three single-gender classes this year. Over the next two years, it will be expanded to include seventh and eighth grades. For more information, e-mail Principal Sig Tanner at or visit the school’s website.


Cierra Goodwin, left, and Jazzmin Green are two of the 54 students in this year’s inaugural class at a new exercise and physiology academy at the Summit Parkway Middle School in Columbia, S.C. The academy used physical activity to help teach students other lessons, such as using math skills to figure out target heart rates.


New Legislation

Rep. Todd Rutherford introduced House Resolution 3617 during the current legislative session; it was adopted in March. The resolution urges state agencies and private organizations to develop and implement policies and programs that will impact South Carolina’s children and youth who are overweight or obese. A champion in this area, Rep. Rutherford met with the South Carolina SCORE team prior to the session to learn more about the pressing needs in his state related to childhood obesity.