NASAA Notes: March 2011


March issue
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March 4, 2011

Mississippi: Moving toward the Art of Good Health

The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) recently received $125,000 to extend the reach of its Moving toward the Art of Good Health (MTAGH) initiative, which embeds ballroom dancing into 6th-grade health or physical education classes. In addition to teaching ballroom dance steps and social etiquette, the program teaches students about health and nutrition and provides experiences for social and personal development. Everyone from the cafeteria workers and the school nurse to counselors get involved in this comprehensive health education effort.

Moving toward the Art of Good Health

MTAGH has its roots in the Mississippi Healthy Students Act of 2007, legislation that requires schools to provide at least 150 minutes of physical activity and 45 minutes of health education each week. MAC created the MTAGH program as an artful response to the act, demonstrating how the arts can promote public health and wellness and help a state to address long-term youth health concerns.

This program is a partnership between MAC and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, which provided funds for this one-year pilot testing the integrated curriculum. Survey results from the previous three-year pilot show that, besides learning ballroom dance steps, students acquired social skills, responsibility, respect for others and teamwork, along with self-discipline and pride in what they were doing. Students’ awareness of calorie intake, food choices, self-esteem and confidence also improved.

MAC will use the new infusion of $125,000 to train 10 teachers and involve more than 1,000 students in an expansion of the program for the 2011-2012 school year. For more information, contact MAC Arts Education Director Kim Whitt.