Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

A ripple and then a wave: Real people, real stories lead to change

Real stories touch people. Real stories reach people. Real stories educate, motivate, and inspire.

EdNC’s Reach NC Voices is a new way for you to share your story with our state. Reach NC Voices inspired me to tell this story.

A story beautiful in its complex simplicity. A real story about a real person. A public school teacher. A person who thought globally and acted locally.

Martin County roughly covers the territory between Tarboro and Plymouth in eastern North Carolina. The population is just under 24,000. That is 56 people per square mile. Williamston is the county seat. Per capita income is under $16,000.

Tim Hardison is a seventh-grade science teacher in Martin County. He read a local newspaper story about a 20-year-long Harvard study that showed Martin County residents had the shortest life expectancy anywhere in North Carolina. He did some research. He found that 60 percent of Martin County adults were overweight or obese. Diabetes was 87 percent above the state average.

Tim was perplexed. What could one person do? “I knew I couldn’t do anything about the national epidemic of childhood obesity, but I could impact the 110 kids in front of me,” he said. And then he acted.

Tim had his science class students compute their body mass index (BMI). Fifty-eight percent were overweight or obese. So what is one teacher to do?

This teacher created MATCH — Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health. MATCH puts wellness into every subject. In math class, students calculate their own BMI. In English class, students write about healthy eating and healthy behaviors. This approach personalized the importance of healthy habits and the consequences of being overweight.

The results? Seventy percent of his students reached a healthier BMI. Tim successfully went after some grants and eventually teamed up with East Carolina University to expand his program to 46 schools with plans to be in more than 75 schools during the 2017-18 school year.

Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Tim Hardison’s MATCH is a program that will have a ripple effect on generations to come.

Reach NC Voices will create ripples by sharing the stories of the Tim Hardisons across our state who are thinking globally and acting locally. Collectively, waves of change will build.

Your story deserves to be heard. Your story must be heard. Your story, just like Tim’s, will educate, motivate, and inspire others. Reach NC Voices is your architecture of participation. Share your story. Create a ripple. And watch it turn into a wave.

Editor’s Note: Brad Wilson serves on the Board of Directors of EdNC. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina support the work of EdNC.

Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.