October 19, 2010
Prairie Point Elementary is making strides in integrating physical activity into the school day! See a snapshot of what this school accomplished in 2 years of working with Healthy Kids Challenge through the HKC-CIGNA Showcase School Challenge. And these are only the physical activity highlights!
- Increased minutes of motion in 100% of classrooms by 30 minutes per week; a 30% increase over the previous year! Collectively, students are getting an additional 15,000 minutes of activity each week! Some of the steps to this success included:
- Integrated activity bursts into core curriculum, which increased from 0% to 40% of classrooms every day.
- School district purchased beach balls and scarves for 100% of classrooms.
- 100% students, 95% teachers, and 5% parents took a 1-week physical activity challenge. After taking the challenge 55% of participants said they had more physical activity because of the challenge.
- Walking school bus (one day per week for 8 weeks) participation was 23% students, 3% parents, and 1% staff. After the 8 week program, 50% reported they had more physical activity because of the program.
- 90% of 3rd – 5th grade teachers reported improved student focus in their classrooms since implementing physical activity changes.
- 50% more staff are participating in wellness activities since becoming a Showcase School.
- 100% of staff and students participated in new bi-monthly walks. More than 2,250 miles have been walked collectively!
- 200% increase in the number of events that send healthy messages or include physical activity in just this school year!
“HKC has achieved many things and its importance is obvious! It was an eye opening experience on how the little things can really add up to a lot. I like the module that talks about instead of doing something new, keep what exists and make it better.” CIGNA Showcase School, Prairie Point Elementary, Kansas City, MO, Andrea Best, Health Room Aide
School-wide minutes of motion were added last year, but administration challenged the staff to add even more physical activity throughout the school day this year. Guidance and ideas from Healthy Kids Challenge, faculty meetings, and an on-site presentation helped staff meet the challenge this year. Here is a sampling of how movement was integrated throughout the school environment:
- More movement to and from classes: students could be seen hopping to lunch, walking backwards to their classroom, or doing hand work on their way to computer lab.
- More movement during class: every classroom teacher energized students with quick brain breaks
- More movement as a reward for good behavior: an extra 20 -minute recess on Fridays for 192 students in 2 grade levels
- More movement during special events: A Spirit assembly held all-school relays and a Holiday assembly challenged students and staff in snowman-building and reindeer races.
By the end of the year, the increased physical movement outside of P.E. resulted in 100% of the 24 classrooms having added brain breaks,
23 (96%) integrated activity into curriculum,
8 (33%) added minutes of recess, and
23 (96%) increased movement during recess.
That is approximately 20 minutes more physical activity for all 506 students weekly as compared to last year.
The total minutes added per student for the entire year: 720!
“The entire school – 506 students in 24 classrooms – doubled the minutes of motion compared to last year. Teachers love the Jammin’ Minutes I send out once a week with classroom ideas for brain breaks and more. Staff enjoy the interaction with the students and are seeing the benefits of it.” CIGNA Showcase School, Prairie Point Elementary, Kansas City, MO, Andrea Best, Health Room Aide
October 5, 2010
What happens when you combine Healthy Kids Challenge expertise with a school that is ready to change? Small, simple changes over time culminate into policies and practices that support healthy actions.
The Healthy Kids Challenge School Challenge is excited to highlight Syracuse Elementary School in Syracuse, KS, for their ongoing forward progress in school wellness practices and policies. Over the past 5 years, the school district and local community along with Healthy Kids Challenge distance assistance have made strides in meeting the challenge for a healthier school environment:
- An active school wellness committee implements healthy eating and physical activity events
- Administration sees the value of, and provides ongoing support for, healthy change
- P.E. is maximized for movement 5 days a week and activity is integrated into classrooms
- Teamwork to develop and implement a district-wide snack policy
- Combined actions for physical activity and healthy eating exist across the curriculum
- Staff role model healthy changes and participate in wellness programs
- Parents and community are engaged in wellness actions through special events, parent-teacher conferences, and newsletters
The school district won student and parent support for the snack policy in an innovative way. School staff developed snack surveys during a summer break, which were given to every student in K-6th grades the first week of school. Then at “Back to School Night”, parents participated in a session on healthy eating, reviewed results of the students’ surveys, and sampled healthy snacks. At the end of the night, a plan was unveiled to students and parents on how to strengthen the school’s nutrition policies. Through student and family input, and support from HKC staff the school district successfully built awareness, appeal, and ownership for the coming change.
Taking survey results into consideration, the Board of Education adopted the following as part of the new policy:
- “Special Lunch”, which used to be a soda and candy bar, was renamed “Snack and Chat” and features a healthy snack each quarter.
- Reading Goal rewards are no longer candy and pop, but extra recess time or a new book.
- Classroom Snacks allowable, and chosen by the students, include popcorn, fruit, and pretzels.
“We truly are all learning more about how to be healthy. We feel that promoting sound health practices, healthy eating and physical activity will create healthier children who will, in turn, be ready to learn,” said Barbara Harris, At-Risk Coordinator for the school.
As Pearl S. Buck said, “Solution is possible where acceptance is ready.” What solutions are working for your school?
March 15, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of school physical education standards when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence-based solutions.
What Schools Tell Us:
What do you do when physical education time gets whittled away to accommodate for school musical programs and special events?
Based on the Bridging the Gap research program, many districts had policies that required a specific amount of time for physical activity, but not for physical education. In this way, some district policies actually encouraged schools to fall below recommendations of the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE) for time spent in physical education (i.e., 150 minutes of physical education per week at the elementary level and 225 minutes per week at the middle and high school levels).
Support recommendations of the National Association for Sport & Physical Education (NASPE) for school time spent in physical education. Give physical education respect like other class curriculum topics. Share best practice ideas with physical educators you know, like the one below!
The HKC best practice, Goal Setting Motivates Kids, shows a fun pedometer activity that increases minutes of motion in P.E. class when kids set their own goals.
Putting Physical Education into Action = Best Practice
Share your physical education ideas with us!
February 22, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of school competitive food and beverage standards when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence-based solutions.
What Schools Tell Us:
Competitive food and beverage sales impact different school areas: foodservice and fundraising for instance, and its hard to bring everyone to an agreeable standard to follow?
With current nutrition information available and government attention to childhood obesity, there is great opportunity to develop strategies and clarify competitive food and beverage standards. See the HKC best practice idea below to help you get started!
The HKC best practice, School District Supports New Policy, shows the simple changes to a district’s competitive food and beverage policy and how the district got support from the parents by involving them in the decisions.
Putting Simple Competitive Food and Beverage Policies into Action = Best Practice
Let us know what your school or district has done to address this issue!
February 15, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of school meal standards when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence-based solutions.
What Schools Tell Us:
We meet the minimum USDA school meal standards, isn’t that enough?
Simple Steps! Add one healthy school meal addition or change at a time to see how easy it can be!
The HKC best practice,School Foodservice Makes a Healthy Impact, shows that a simple menu addition of Ranch dressing and raw veggies can increase healthy veggie choices made by kids at lunch!
Putting Simple School Meal Changes into Action = Best Practice
Let us know the healthy school meal changes you have made!
January 25, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of nutrition education when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence-based solutions.
What Schools Tell Us:
We don’t have time to add nutrition curriculum to an already full day.
We need quick, easy ideas to integrate nutrition education.
While the majority of students are in a district that includes nutrition education goals in its wellness policy, there is great inconsistency in the specific provisions.
Policies are vague, lacking specific timelines and methods to implement; therefore little execution takes place.
Take action! Use interactive games and activities for nutrition education that are fun and easy!
The HKC classroom best practice activity, Queen and King of MyPyramid, shows how simple it is to teach classroom nutrition that kids will remember!
Six kids are each given a colored scarf representing a MyPyramid food group. The kids tie the scarves on like sashes, receive a bucket and are given titles such as “Queen of the Fruit” or Veggie King”. Other classmates retrieve pictures of foods across the room and deliver them to the correct “kingdoms”.
For more of our fun nutrition education activities, click here.
Putting Nutrition Education into Action = Best Practice
Nutrition education that is interactive leads to behavior modification. We know our HEAR – SEE – DO approach reinforces healthy change!
January 11, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of lack of resources when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence based solutions.
What schools tell us:
We don’t have enough money.
We don’t have enough time.
We don’t have enough staff.
We don’t have enough teaching resources/equipment.
Only 5% of students are in a district with funding to support implementation.
87% of school districts identified lack of funding (44%) as a major barrier, as well as lack of time & labor (43%) as barriers to implementing their wellness policies.
The federal law currently provides no funding for implementation of local school wellness policies.
Solution: Use a “Start Where You Are” approach!
“Start Where You Are” builds on what already exists. Heard the saying “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”?
There is no one perfect healthy school and even the model schools had to start somewhere! You need to know what you have first so that your actions are effective.
Start with assessing your needs, including existence or lack of money, time, staff and equipment. Then use our tools and expertise to take healthy action with what already exists. Will your KidLink TeamTM choose to focus on increasing physical activity, improving nutrition education, or enhancing healthy food choices at school?
Enhancing What Exists = A Best Practice
It saves a good deal of time and money because you are not “reinventing the wheel”.
Simple, every day changes are easiest to implement and more likely to last long term.
January 4, 2010
A Healthy Kids Challenge view of the quality issues schools encounter when it comes to wellness…and one of our simple, every day, evidence based solutions.
What schools tell us:
We don’t have a wellness team.
We had a wellness team to develop the policy, but it hasn’t met since then.
We have one staff member who takes care of all of the wellness stuff.
We don’t have a budget for this.
Inconsistent QUALITY and weak language make up most school districts’ wellness policies. Most include only general goals and no specific guidelines or requirements for taking action.
Solution: Get people on board – Recruit a KidLinkTM* team.
We know parents, teachers, and community members are very interested in wellness – the key is to find them and highlight the benefits –the win/wins-of forming a KidLinkTM team.
A KidLinkTM team = A best practice.
- It provides a foundation for communication, support, and collaboration.
- No one person gets “burned out” with the responsibillity for ALL school wellness policies.
- A team of diverse members can improve the quality of the wellness policies with very little time and effort.
*People who can help kids make healthy eating and physical activity choices a habit.
December 28, 2009
Quality, Funding, and Implementation
Nutrition Education and Nutrition Standards
Physical Activity Requirements
Kids spend most of their waking hours in school, and eat 30-50% of their calories there on school days. Ideally, a healthy school environment supports learning the importance of lifelong healthy behaviors, getting regular physical activity, making healthy eating choices. It’s what the government mandates with its local school wellness policy requirement. Realistically, though, most school wellness policies are falling short.
Some ask, schools are following the letter of the law, isn’t that good enough? No. First and foremost this law requires only that the school has written a policy with general goals. It does not require specific guidelines be written for those goals, nor does it require that the school take action. It requires implementation plans, which are not funded. And the enforcement language is weak, including no reporting requirement or penalty for inaction.
For now, the law has been extended for one more year, but it will be revised and renewed in 2010. We still believe a healthy school environment is about more than a policy or a mandate.
You have to have simple, inexpensive and easy-to-implement solutions that include health as part of each and every school day.
Over the years, we’ve learned what’s most effective and how to overcome barriers, and I intend to share that with you in a series of blogs to start off the new year. So, in your opinion, what changes could be made to help schools become healthier, and stay that way?
December 21, 2009
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) research recently identified the majority of federally mandated local school wellness policies are failing to provide healthy school environments. Healthy Kids Challenge has said for years the key is it has to be about more than a policy and a mandate. To have successful outcomes, you have to have simple, inexpensive and easy-to-implement solutions that include health as part of each and every school day.
“Healthy school environments help to create healthy students who are ready to learn and succeed. Where we live, work, learn and play has a tremendous impact on how healthy we are.” Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of RWJF, from testimony at a Congressional Hearing on Childhood Obesity, Dec. 16th, 2009.
We have a successful history of helping schools implement meaningful wellness actions even before the wellness policies were mandated. Just having a policy for eating healthier or moving more is not enough.
Our major initiative now is to help move schools from policy into action.
We offer two innovative solutions – one is self-guided and the other is guided by our school challenge coaches. Both help you take action, garner support, and achieve the goals in your wellness policies.
These materials can be found at www.healthykidschallenge.org
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”~Margaret Meed