Elementary schools win Dell Health in Art Mini-Grants

Cactus Ranch, England and Forest Creek elementary schools received 2014 Health in Art Mini-Grants from the Michael & Susan Dell Community Collaborative for Child Health (MSDCCCH) recently.

Cactus Ranch School Nurse Pam Wallace won a $500 grant to fund an outdoor mural at the school. Forest Creek Art Teacher Pam Arnold won a $250 award for a ceramic totem poles project. England Art Instructor Suzanne West received $250 to install distance and plant/wildlife information markers along the school’s walking and running track.

The Cactus Ranch community organized a Healthy Living poster contest in which all students could submit a poster in one of three categories – Nutrition, Safety or Exercise. They received over 120 entries and displayed the posters in the main hallway of the campus. Students chose their favorite poster in each category this week and the winning posters will be painted on a metal shed located on the Cactus Ranch playground. The painted shed will serve as a permanent art installation and as a reminder of healthy living opportunities. Those involved with the project will unveil the shed at Cactus Ranch’s annual wellness night Friday, March 28.

“This project will accomplish the grant goal of promoting healthy living while also beautifying our campus with an outdoor art mural,” Wallace said. “We are very proud of our students and their creativity, artistry and commitment to spreading the word to the Cactus Ranch community about healthy living.”

At Forest Creek all teachers maintain a garden box in the school’s garden. Garden and Service Club members tend to the garden each Monday by watering the growing vegetables and completing other needed maintenance. With grant funding,

Garden and Service Club members will create ceramic pillars resembling totem poles to represent the natural habitat, animals, plants and vegetables in the school’s garden. Along with designing the pillars, students are making signs and stepping stones for the garden.

“We are really excited about the new additions for the Forest Creek gardens,” Arnold said. “The totem poles will enhance the look of the area, while gardening encourages our students to eat healthy things they grow themselves.”

England Art Club members are creating markers that will indicate distance measurements in both standard and metric terms, resembling those found in national parks. Along with the measurements, the markers will have illustrations and facts showing the different animals and plants native to the ranch land. The markers will allow walkers and runners to set measurable goals and monitor distance traveled.

“We’re excited to honor the beauty of the land and educate students and the public who may use the track for walking and running,” West said.

The MSDCCCH Health in Art Mini-Grant awards are made possible by funding from the Dell Foundation’s annual Be Well Walk and are presented to groups who are committed to child wellness through the promotion of art projects inspiring creativity and healthy living.

The MSDCCCH began in 2007 as a part of the Travis County Coordinated Approach to Child Health initiative. The collaborative is comprised of community leaders representing various child wellness programs, school districts, nonprofits, churches and research organizations in Central Texas.

The MSDCCCH will celebrate the accomplishments of the grant recipients at its second annual Wellness Summit in May 2014.