Climbing the walls has a whole new meaning at The Crossnore School. After a year of living at this children's home in the western North Carolina mountains, brothers Daulton, 12, and Christian, 11, are thriving.
"These are two boys who did not eat well and did not have good hygiene," said Jennifer Faulkner, the boys' case manager. "They were not attending school regularly and did not have a lot of opportunities for exercise or recreation."
Today, Daulton and Christian are role models for other children at the school, embracing a healthful diet and enjoying a lot of physical activity. Like other children, the boys will live at the private, nonprofit children's home and school until an acceptable home environment is available. Crossnore is home to about 90 children, from ages 2 to 19.
Promoting Healthy Diet and Exercise
Along with 24 other licensed children's homes in the Carolinas, The Crossnore School has launched a new initiative to promote healthful eating and physical activity as part of The Wellness Project. Funded by The Duke Endowment, the project is based on a 2003 survey of children's homes in North Carolina and South Carolina, which revealed that the percentage of overweight children in the homes (24 percent) exceeded the national average (13 percent).
To improve the health and wellness of children in the homes, The Wellness Project encourages the children to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and to participate in physical activity for one hour at least five days a week.
All of the children enjoy riding bicycles, playing team sports and games and participating in recreational activities. A climbing tower at Crossnore provides a lofty incentive: when the kids make progress at school, they are allowed to advance to higher levels on the tower. Construction of a new outdoor basketball court and skateboarding area is underway as well.
Role Models and Student Leaders
"The biggest change that I've seen in Daulton and Christian is that they've learned not to be so competitive, but to enjoy their activities just for fun," said Josh King, recreation director at Crossnore.
Daulton and Christian continue to challenge themselves at Crossnore. Both hold leadership positions at the school. Daulton is a member of the student advisory board and works for King in the weight room, and Christian is a member of the student wellness committee. "They are so appreciative of the opportunities they have here," said Faulkner.
Phillip H. Redmond Jr.
Director of Child Care