Former President Bill Clinton briefly exercised with elementary school students and kicked the tires of a retrofitted bus that delivers fresh produce to low-income neighborhoods during a Wednesday visit to St. Louis.
St. Louis is the third and final leg on a national tour of initiatives the 71-year-old’s foundation is supporting.
The first stop in St. Louis was Gateway Elementary, a public school in the city’s Carr Square neighborhood. It’s one of the newer and more expansive schools in the district. Clinton tried out a fitness corner and got a look at the school’s garden and walking path.
“Not every inner city school will have the physical possibilities this one does, but every school can do the diet and the exercise and make it fun,” Clinton told reporters in the school cafeteria.
Gateway, one of 11 St. Louis Public Schools in Healthy Schools Program program, has been honored by the Clinton Foundation for its successes in health improvements among students.
Gateway integrated exercise into normal school activities and lesson plans.
“It all means more movement, which is what children desperately need,” said Leanne White, project director for SLPS’s healthy schools program. “Without having to add additional physical education classes, we’re able to increase their number of activity minutes while they’re here in school.”
White said students who were overweight have lost weight since starting the program three years ago. Nearly a third of Missouri children in low-income homes are overweight or obese, according to the Child Policy Research Center.
Clinton said Gateway has a “special structure” that allowed it to make those improvements and he hopes students feel “more empowered” because they’re healthier.
On Monday and Tuesday, Clinton was in Baltimore and Jacksonville, Florida, to visit programs working to combat the opioid epidemic and infant mortality.
While in St. Louis, he also visited a science and engineering engineering program for girls.
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