Originally published Aug. 18, 2021 by Appalachian News-Express.
Pepsi Stronger Together – PepsiCo's series of grassroots initiatives identifying areas of need around the country and investing in the future of those communities where it counts – is helping to ensure the physical and mental well-being of Louisville youth, just in time for back-to-school.
A$160,000 commitment to Jefferson County's Atkinson Elementary School will revive a long-dormant physical education program and ensure a generation of students are primed for success, whether in person or in the event of remote learning.
"This is an investment in the future of the students' mental and physical health as part of Pepsi Stronger Together's continued work to keep local students happy, healthy, and excited for school," said Derek Lewis, President, PepsiCo Beverages North America (South Division). "For many students this is likely the first time they are able to participate in a program like this, making it about so much more than just a donation."
Starting on August 18, for the first time since 2005, all 325+ students will be able to participate in a holistic array of physical education programming, from team-building games and sports to valuable life lessons in healthy eating habits, exercise, mindfulness, leadership skills, sleep, and more. A school-wide social emotional program, The Leader in Me, will also be incorporated, teaching seven important habits from being proactive to understanding others as the premise of becoming leaders.
Pepsi Stronger Together worked closely with the University of Louisville – whose Signature Partnership Initiative is focused on supporting Louisville's West End education community through teacher and student support – to identify Atkinson Elementary School as the recipient of the donation.
"With a global pandemic afoot, it is more important now than ever before to ensure the youth in our communities are at their strongest - both mentally and physically," said Dr. Geneva A. Stark, Director of the Nystrand Center of Excellence in Education at the University of Louisville. "A sincere thank-you to Pepsi Stronger Together for providing the opportunity for these Louisville students – and their families – to develop healthy habits both inside and outside of the classroom."
"We are thrilled to bring PE back to our students and grateful to Pepsi Stronger Together for giving us the opportunity to help change the health trajectory for our students," said Atkinson Elementary Principal Michael Losey. "No matter what PE looks like this year, we will be able to prioritize it to help positively impact their physical and mental health as well as promote social emotional skills, leadership, teamwork, and problem solving."