Laurens County School District 55 HYPE (Healthy Young People Empowerment) teams have been hard at work improving healthy eating and active living in Laurens from 2015-2018, and there is no slowing down in 2019.

"The work that the Laurens County School District 55 Hype Teams are doing will be recognized at the state level by EatSmartMoveMore this week in Florence," said President and Founder of Bridging the Gap Advocacy Calvin Whitmire, who also is employed by the district as a community liaison and special student assistant.

HYPE teams are available for all students to join at LCSD 55 middle schools and the high school. Adult advisors include Principals Dr. Anna Brink and Mr. J.R. Reid, and teachers Kristen Bryan, April Kingsborough, Tina South and Cassandra Campbell. The HYPE teams also have positions called Hype Moms and Dads available for parents to get involved in the community work.

The focus of the Hype Teams is to build Champions for Change by taking students from very different communities and encouraging them to think outside their comfort zone collectively.

"We want to create a culture of 'One Laurens,'" Mr. Whitmire said.

The Laurens County HYPE teams, enhanced an abandoned ball field, giving 2,692 community members living within one mile of the field convenient access to a fun outdoor space. They also were able to enhance the Sanders Middle School walking trail with signs, benches and trash cans to increase usage.

Three thousand twenty-three people live within one mile of the trail and have a safe and convenient place to walk. The HYPE team also hosted many community events involving neighborhood cleanups, kickball events, gardening opportunities and nutrition education.

The HYPE team's goal is to motivate and engage youth in policy, systems and environmental obesity change efforts. Its activities will stay focused on healthy eating and active living in the 2019 year.