Supporting the mental and physical well-being of students in Pepsi Stronger Together communities

The pandemic has taken a toll on the education system in America, hugely impacting grade-school students who had to transition to remote or hybrid learning. School counselors have reported children experiencing grief due the changes, as well as the loss of social interactions and an outlet from class stressors and stressors at home.

That’s why Pepsi Stronger Together stepped in with events during the 2021 school term to reach and support grade-school students in several of our communities.

Providing school supplies and nutrition in Nashville

During the summer, we spent time at Nashville’s Jones Paideia Elementary to ensure students were feeling happy, healthy and ready to get back to school for more learning. At the same time, we wanted to help ease the burden of the back-to-school season on local families.

Alongside partners Dollar General, Vanderbilt University and Second Harvest, Pepsi Stronger Together representatives provided school supplies, back-to-school clothes and meals. To continue the impact, we kicked off a two-year partnership with Second Harvest to keep the school’s pantry stocked at all times.

So not only could the students’ spirits and confidence levels be lifted by new clothes and everything they needed to get back to learning, but they could be sufficiently nourished to support both their learning and well-being.

Reviving physical education in Louisville

Around the same time, Pepsi Stronger Together landed in Louisville to provide support to Jefferson County’s Atkinson Elementary School. We committed to a $160K monetary gift to

rejuvenate the school’s physical education program, which can be scaled to meet remote learning needs.

“This is an investment in the future of the students’ mental and physical health as part of Pepsi Stronger Together’s continued work to keep local students happy, healthy and excited for school,” said Derek Lewis, President, PepsiCo Beverages North America (South Division).

For the first time since 2005, all 325+ students were able to start participating in the school’s physical education programming. Not only does this provide a fun, active outlet to take their minds off of social and academic stressors, but this gives the kids a chance to get moving. Their exercises can support better physical health, while releasing endorphins to improve their sense of well-being.

The Atkinson curriculum is well-rounded. It encompasses team-building games and sports, as well as lessons in healthy eating habits, exercise, mindfulness, leadership skills, sleep and more. Building on that, the school launched a social emotional program called The Leader in Me. This program will teach seven leadership habits, from being proactive to understanding others.

“No matter what PE looks like this year,” said Atkinson Elementary Principal Michael Losey, “we will be able to prioritize it to help positively impact their physical and mental health as well as promote social emotional skills, leadership, teamwork and problem solving.”