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Memorial-Spotlight-photoMemorial Hospital promotes healthy living for children via Radio Disney’s “Move It!” program. Memorial’s health educator Michele Siebert travels to schools and teaches kids how to develop smart eating and exercise habits.   Memorial Hospital maintains a special focus on youth through two important ventures: Disney Radio’s “Move It!” program and the annual High School Blood Challenge.
   Radio Disney’s “Move It!” program is aimed at physical fitness and curbing childhood obesity. It’s focused on grades kindergarten through 6 and challenges children to get up off the couch, away from the TV and the computer screen and do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day outside of school.
   Memorial Hospital has been a sponsor for four years, providing both funding and expertise, bringing speakers into schools to talk about health, hygiene, nutrition and exercise. The program began with Belleville Public School District 118 but since has expanded to take in 20 participating schools in St. Clair and Monroe counties.
   The program begins early in the school year with a presentation to explain the task and issue the challenge. Students decide on their own to participate and through the school year they must maintain a log of the exercise they engaged in each day. Schools that have the most participating students, win cash prizes that they can use to bolster their physical education programs. This past school year, five area schools received $500 awards through the program. William Holliday Elementary School in Fairview Heights won $1,000. The award money was provided by Memorial Hospital.
   Radio Disney is a radio network based in Burbank, Calif., which broadcasts music aimed at youth under age 16. Its St. Louis station is WSDZ-AM 1260. Kathleen Kaiser does program development for WSDZ. She says Radio Disney started the “Move It!” program about 10 years ago to promote health and has since expanded it into a larger program called The Magic of Healthy Living.
   “Memorial has sponsored Radio Disney’s ‘Move It!’ program for the past several years because it really speaks to creating a healthier lifestyle for the next generation,” said Anne Thomure, Memorial’s director of hospital/community relations and Memorial Foundation’s executive director. “Teaching healthy eating and exercise habits at an early age is important. This program allows our staff to talk to students about heart and lung health as well as good nutrition and exercise. Schools whose students record the most activity minutes are given ‘scholarships’ to purchase equipment for the physical education programs to assist in furthering physical activities in our local schools.”
   Another way Memorial Hospital focuses on youth outreach is through the annual High School Blood Challenge. The Challenge just completed its eighth year, with more than 3,900 blood donations.
   The High School Blood Challenge encourages high school students, faculty, friends, relatives and community members to donate blood in recognition of the high school of their choice.
   Competing in three categories based on size, the high school in each category with the highest percentage of blood donations receives a $1,000 scholarship from Memorial Foundation to award to a graduating senior(s) to further his or her education. A total of 24 area high schools participated in the Challenge this past school year.
   Recently the Memorial Foundation and the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center announced the winners of the 2012-2013 High School Blood Challenge.
   This year’s recipients of the Memorial Foundation scholarship are: Taylor Onstott from Governor French Academy, Matthew Stubblefield from Althoff Catholic High School and Ashli James and Katie Krieshok from Granite City High School. Governor French Academy placed first in the small school category with 49 donations and a participation rating of 140 percent. In the mid-size category, Althoff Catholic High School placed first with 274 donations and an 86.28 percent participation rating. Granite City High School placed first in the large school category with 456 donations and a participation rating of 54.36 percent.
   MVRBC is the provider of blood and components to Memorial Hospital, Touchette Regional Hospital, Gateway Regional Medical Center, Saint Anthony’s Health Center, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Anderson Hospital and the hospitals of SSM Health Care in St. Louis.
   “Memorial Foundation is again very proud to partner with MVRBC and provide scholarships for the high school blood challenge in Southwest Illinois,” said Thomure. “The caliber of the students receiving these scholarships is outstanding, and we are very proud to support them in furthering their education.”