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Hilton Head school signs on with Michelle Obama's wellness challenge

Third-grader Delaney Wray walks the balance beam as she and other students demonstrate their exercising prowess Tuesday on the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts fitness trail. The school was celebrating its joining first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity.
Third-grader Delaney Wray walks the balance beam as she and other students demonstrate their exercising prowess Tuesday on the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts fitness trail. The school was celebrating its joining first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity. Jay Karr/Island Packet

Fourth-grader Dean Seelbach usually isn't excited about eating his vegetables.

But this school year, he's looking forward to trying homegrown turnips, radishes, cabbage and broccoli.

Dean and other students at the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts planted a vegetable and herb garden in the elementary school's courtyard this month as part of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

Chefs from SERG Group, which owns restaurants such as Frankie Bones, Black Marlin and the Skull Creek Boathouse, will teach students how to use the food they grow to prepare healthy meals.

Dean said he'll be more willing to eat vegetables he helped grow.

"I've never planted a garden before," he said.

Third-grader Sam Borisuk can't wait to use fresh herbs.

"I like parsley because my dad puts it on his eggs, and it tastes really good," he said.

The School for Creative Arts dedicated its garden at a ceremony Tuesday, attended by several parents, volunteers and local officials, including members of area garden clubs and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson.

The event kicked off the school's involvement in Obama's campaign, part of which calls on chefs across the country to get involved with schools by educating children about food and nutrition. The School for Creative Arts is the only school in Beaufort County registered for that part of the program, according to Obama's website.

Keith Jodway of WiseGuys restaurant and other local chefs brought samples of healthy snacks. They made sushi rolls out of peanut butter and jelly and served apple lollipops -- apples on a stick with a dip of honey, granola and yogurt.

Jodway said the program will introduce students to nutritious and tasty alternatives to a bag of chips. The recipes will be simple and use affordable ingredients so families can make the meals at home.

"I think it might spark a little bit of imagination and encourage creativity," Jodway said. " ... And it gets students up off the couch and away from video games into the kitchen, where they will be moving around."

Physical-education teacher Jackie Wheeler said the chefs also will work with the cafeteria staff to show it ways to use the fresh vegetables and herbs. Those foods will be labeled in the cafeteria so students know what they're eating.

"It's one thing to plant a garden and watch it grow," Wheeler said. "It's a whole different effort to know what to do with the food."

Wheeler said the gardening club and partnership with local chefs are part of several recent efforts the school has made to combat childhood obesity.

The school also has a walking club and a strength team that meets before school to exercise and lift weights. A $5,000 grant the school won this spring from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control helped pay for those programs.

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