During the 2022-2023 school year, each public school in Garrett County participated in the Garrett County Health Department’s Play Hard, Live Clean (PHLC) campaign. PHLC is a healthy lifestyle campaign designed to encourage youth to make good choices by recognizing and rewarding them for specific positive lifestyle accomplishments from kindergarten through graduation.
“As we wrapped up our sixth PHLC year in partnership with the Garrett County Public School System, we are excited by the level of participation,” said James Michaels, campaign spokesperson from the health department. “Overall, a total of 1,607 elementary and middle school students participated in the campaign this year.”
Elementary and middle school students were invited to participate in three challenges specifically designed for their age level.
Elementary students participated in Mindfulness, Milk/Water, and Physical Activity Challenges. Three elementary schools had 100% participating in all three of the challenges, Accident, Route 40, and Swan Meadow, with Crellin and Friendsville not far behind at 99% and 96% respectively.
Just over two-thirds, or 66% (1,119) of elementary students completed at least one of the challenges, and 35% (595) completed all three challenges and received gold medals for their achievement.
Middle school students participated at a similar rate, with 65% (488) completing at least one of the challenges, which were Kindness, No-Caffeine, and Physical Activity Challenges.
The campaign at the high school is primarily online, consisting of monthly surveys and videos about health topics. Overall high school participation was at 39%, with 48% at Southern High School (SHS) and 29% at Northern High School (NHS).
In addition to a chance to win monthly prizes for 9th through 12th grades, the culmination of the PHLC campaign for high school seniors is the awarding of a scholarship to one Northern High student and one Southern High student. The $500 scholarships can be used for work expenses, health expenses, or further education of any kind.
To be considered for this scholarship, students must be registered participants of the online PHLC campaign. The more a student participates in the campaign through monthly challenges and surveys, the greater their chances of winning the scholarship. Students selected for the scholarship must agree to a social media scan to verify that they live a lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol.
This year’s scholarship recipients were asked to share thoughts about what “live clean” means to them.
Southern High School winner, Amariah Skipper, said: “To me, living clean means staying away from harmful substances and leading a healthy life. I want to take the best care of my body as I can. I hope to stay active and make healthy choices for the rest of my life.”
Northern High School recipient, Caleb Zimmerman, said: “Trying to fill the gaps in your heart with things like these (alcohol, nicotine, marijuana) is like trying to patch concrete with toothpaste; it might stop water or weather at first, but it will not last.”
For more information about the Play Hard, Live Clean campaign, visit the website at PlayHardLiveClean.com or contact the health department at 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111.