Eight area schools recognized by Bill Clinton's Healthy Schools program
Five schools in Pinellas County and three in Pasco County have been recognized for their work in promoting healthy eating and exercise by Bill Clinton's Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program.
They are Quail Hollow and Wesley Chapel elementary schools, and Weightman Middle School in Pasco, and Belcher, Highland Lakes, Skycrest and North Shore elementary schools, and Bay Point Middle School in Pinellas.
“Even though these schools do not have abundant resources, their teachers and staff are dedicated to the health of their students. Every school in America should emulate these educators by making healthy eating and daily exercise a priority,” Clinton said in a release about the 251 honored schools across the country. “It takes this kind of collaboration between schools, their students, and national partners to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.”
Read on for details about each area program, as described by the alliance.
Quail Hollow Elementary School, Pasco, FL, BRONZE
Teachers at Quail Hollow Elementary have found that moving recess before lunch has had a profound impact on their students. Children are eating better after working up an appetite outside and then they return to the classroom feeling full, calm and ready to learn. In addition to recess and physical education, students are encouraged to join an afterschool walking club that meets three times a week after school. Even school fundraising is now done through a school Walk-a-Thon which reinforces the important message about moving more. Teachers have been encouraged to work on stress reduction and have enjoyed chair massages several times throughout the year, or what they call "a mini-vacation during the school day!"
Thomas E. Weightman Middle School, Wesley Chapel, FL BRONZE
In order to increase opportunities for physical activity, Thomas E Weightman Middle School began a running and walking club, started using physical activities as school wide incentives and initiated the Wellness Student of the Month Program. Student and faculty events only served healthy food choices. The students were educated in reading and understanding food labeling as well as using the “Fooducate” app to help them understand what they eat in their everyday lives. The staff members were encouraged to use the school’s weight room and to join in on the running and walking club with students. They posted their success on the Wellness Bulletin Board in order to motivate their fellow staff members to begin exercise plans of their own. As faculty members continued to lose weight and increased their levels of fitness, it motivated everyone around them to do the same, including the students.
Wesley Chapel Elementary School, Wesley Chapel, FL, BRONZE
Wesley Chapel Elementary School set out to build a fitness lab that was suitable and fun for even their youngest students. The final product is a room with 27 different fitness stations that includes stair steps, punching bags and exercise bikes. They also started new sports clubs (soccer, volleyball, flag football and aerobics) that meet every Friday after school. The wellness council worked closely with the cafeteria staff and removed items that do not meet the Alliance’s school meal guidelines. They continued to work on their school garden where green beans, squash and lettuce have been harvested. A new staff wellness center has opened that provides a dedicated place for staff to relieve stress and increase fitness before, during and after school.
Belcher Elementary School, Clearwater, FL, BRONZE
At Belcher Elementary, increased participation occurred in their walk/jog Wednesdays. The school added daily recess before or after lunch and increased physical movement in their classrooms. After school fitness opportunities were also increased. Salad lunch options were made available and junk food in the classrooms was significantly reduced. Healthier snack foods and drinks were implemented in the staff snack machine.
Highland Lakes Elementary School, Palm Harbor, FL, SILVER
The wellness council at Highland Lakes Elementary gives lots of credit to their cafeteria manager who worked diligently to remove all unhealthy a la carte items and found healthier replacements. They have received positive feedback from parents about this. Each classroom enjoyed starting a garden, physical activity breaks and a weekly Zumba class after school. Staff meetings had a healthy snack makeover and they took advantage of health screenings and more wellness information. The PTA supported the efforts and used the Alliance’s website to find healthy fundraising ideas.
Skycrest Elementary School, Clearwater, FL, SILVER
The Skycrest Elementary cafeteria offers students water and unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Healthy foods are colorfully displayed to encourage healthy choices and no junk food is sold. Before school, students were offered the opportunity to walk or run, supervised by P.E. teachers. Daily activity breaks were enjoyed by students and staff. After school programs include golf, tennis, dance, and outdoor play. This year they piloted Take 10! in the classroom and the students loved it! Staff enjoyed a weekly Salad Day when participants brought salad ingredients and combined them for a healthy and tasty lunch. Staff were also encouraged to walk, run, and do yoga together after school and enjoyed three nutrition seminars. One teacher excitedly reported, "I am so happy to be practicing what I am teaching!" The PTA President stated, "I am looking forward to a partnership with the school and the community to support wellness."
Bay Point Middle School, St. Petersburg, FL, BRONZE
This year the wellness council at Bay Point Middle School focused on increasing physical activity for both students and staff. Staff volleyball and softball games as well as a walking program increased the opportunities for staff to exercise on school grounds. More extracurricular programs were offered to students after school and many classes utilized the fitness room throughout the school day. Health teachers incorporated healthy foods into their lessons, encouraging students to taste new fruits and vegetables. Teachers are now excited to think of creative ways to reward students since unhealthy junk food is no longer the typical choice. Bay Point Middle School cannot wait for another even healthier school year!
North Shore Elementary School, St. Petersburg, FL, BRONZE
North Shore Elementary integrated movement into their curriculum for at least 20 minutes per day. They also took advantage of the physical activity programs provided before and after school by the YMCA. In the cafeteria, healthy salads were offered each day along with an array of fruits and vegetables. A hydration station was set up in the staff lounge and nutritional programs were available for staff to participate in. The school wellness council posted neighborhood maps in the staff lounges with exact mileage to encourage them to take walks. Both students and staff are more conscious about making healthy food and beverage choices.