MMS encourages healthy lifestyle

MMS students, from left, Hugo Ponce, Jason Ocampo, Conner Spears and Chris Talley try out their newly learned CPR skills on “Annie” and “Annie’s Baby.” (Contributed)

By CATHERINE LEGG / Community Columnist

Montevallo Middle School was a busy place on Friday, April 27, when the teachers, students, University of Montevallo faculty members and local leaders were involved in an exciting health fair. The fair was another example of the fine cooperation and exemplary community spirit in Montevallo.

“We hope that the students learned to make the connection between their choices and their overall health and well-being,” said P.E. instructor Sheila Jett, who helped coordinate the event. “We offered a variety of speakers to cover the mental, social, spiritual as well as physical aspects of healthy living. We are so fortunate to have such qualified members of our community who are willing to share their expertise with our students and inspire us all.”

All of the students attended five different 30-minute sessions led by knowledgeable instructors. MMS’s Mona Guraya facilitated the alcohol and tobacco presentation.

Mike Reid of the Montevallo Rescue Department taught the kids about CPR and first aid; Melyssa Boggan talked with her groups about the perils of teen pregnancy, and the students got a big kick out of playing soccer with local pro, Raul Martinez.

Seat belt safety was the subject of a session with UM’s Butch Fuller of the Traffic Safety Center, and Katie O’Brien, head volleyball coach at UM, inspired the kids to stay in school and work hard. She also worked them in some volleyball drills.

Diane Landers was there leading the students in chair aerobics, and UM’s Jenni Perkins, who never runs out of energy, was jamming with the kids in Zumba as they were all having great fun.

The students spent a fascinating 30 minutes looking at, and learning about, Dr. John Burling’s collection of snakes. Pablo Martel, one of UM’s star baseball players, gave the young people some pointers on good baseball and played a game of stickball with them.

Other sessions included Peter Bowling from Family Connection discussing suicide prevention; Officer Jason Thrash of the Montevallo Police Department, and Zen Cardwell of Chilton/Shelby Mental Health, discussing the importance of making good decisions; Dr. Earl Cunningham with a spiritual lesson; and Shelby County’s Board of Education Nutritional Supervisor, Betty Ingram, presenting a good nutrition session.

Along with Jett, the health fair was coordinated by Raynette Ellison and Cheryl Fenn.

Next year’s plans include an expanded career fair as well as the health fair.

Catherine Legg can be reached by email at