News and Information

Healthy competition motivates Bessemer City schools to get healthier


Nearly 60 faculty turned out a few weeks ago to celebrate the culmination of the Bessemer Middle vs. Bessemer High Health Revolution ceremony. CaroMont’s Wellness Team presented the final results of the eight week-long wellness program to staff designed to “empower and motivate Gaston County School faculty to eat smart, move more, reduce stress and live more mindfully.”

In 2010, CaroMont approached Gaston County Schools about taking their wellness program into the school system which was met immediately with open arms. The Health Revolution made its first pilot debut in the private school setting in 2011 followed by Gaston County Schools: Southwest Middle, Ashbrook High and last but not least, Bessemer City schools.

When Principal Rebecca Wilson first learned that her middle school would have the opportunity to take part in the program last fall, she was elated because she had already been considering a lifestyle change of her own. She realized that in order to help make this program a little more appealing to staff they would need to incorporate a little healthy competition. So, she asked the principal at the high school if he would be open to taking on the challenge with his team, as well. Of course, James Montgomery, Bessemer High Principal, couldn’t pass down a challenge, and so the Bessemer Middle vs. Bessemer High Revolution was set in motion.

Bessemer Middle School

Bessemer Middle was the first to begin the program in September 2012 to December 2012. Despite the holiday overlap, Principal Wilson rallied her colleagues to meet the program head on and much to her surprise 32 faculty members signed up. To start, each participant completed a Health Risk Appraisal comprised of questions pertaining to lifestyle habits that when answered total the individual wellness score. The aggregate of participants’ scores determines the overall team’s wellness score which in their case was 68. Everyone received a pedometer to wear at all times to calculate total number of steps walked each day.

Over the course of eight weeks, representatives from CaroMont’s Wellness Team visited the middle school one afternoon a week to conduct health and wellness sessions with staff. Principal Wilson shared that because of teachers’ confining schedules’ it’s more difficult for them to find time for themselves, especially when it comes to their health.

CaroMont experts representing various disciplines including nutrition, sleep medicine, fitness and stress management visited the school to educate and provide simple, yet effective tools to get and maintain healthier habits.

“I realized in the end that health isn’t just about weight loss,” said Wilson. “And because I’m so busy, I don’t take time for myself. But, now I’ve learned to dedicate at least 30 minutes each day to me.”

In the end, Wilson lost a total of seven pounds, dropped overall inches and lowered her blood pressure all of which helped her begin her journey to be healthier.

Bessemer High School

Principal Montgomery introduced the health concept to his staff during a leadership meeting this past January, and again it was received with full support. Beginning at the end of January, 45 high school faculty members voluntarily started their journey to health.

“I basically became the cheerleader for the staff providing them with encouragement and support along the way,” said Montgomery. “It was exciting and CaroMont was terrific to work with!”

April 9marked the end of Bessemer High’s eight weeks to better health with 37 faculty members crossing the finish line.

The celebration…Drum roll, please…

Both schools were extremely successful. The combined weight loss for both schools totaled 220 pounds with eight faculty losing over ten pounds alone.

“This was the first time two schools issued a challenge to one another,” said Debbie Bellenger, Director of Health and Wellness at CaroMont. It was very fun and added a little more excitement with the final outcomes and the grand finale. The partnership with Gaston County School System is valuable in supporting Caromont’s call to action to improve the health of the Gaston community,” said Bellenger.

But, like every competition, there has to be a winner. Based on the highest percentage of weight loss combined with the percentage of participants with improved wellness scores, the winner for the Bessemer Middle vs. Bessemer High Health Revolution Challenge 2013 went to…..Bessemer High!

Everyone walked away a winner with a healthy lunch and celebration.

Summary of Results:

Avg wellness score % of improvement Total weight loss Average weight loss per person Avg weight loss for faculty that attended 6 of 8 sessions
Bessemer Middle Start: 68

Finish: 76

88.24% 26 lbs. (0.9%) 1.52 lbs. 2 lbs.
Bessemer High Start: 65

Finish: 70

86.49% 196 lbs. (2.74%) 5.29 lbs. 5.48 lbs.