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Congratulations, Healthy Schools, Healthy Schools Leaders, and Wellness Councils for a successful year. A total of 18 participating schools took steps toward achieving best practices for creating healthy school environments, and one participating school was the recipient of a National Award!
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh thanks Pittsburgh Public Schools for their partnership, and commends teachers, administrators, and schools for their commitment to student health and well-being. We also recognize the many community partners and organizations that helped schools succeed in their efforts. Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Venture Outdoors, and P3R (Pittsburgh Marathon) are just a few of the organizations that encouraged and supported schools in making health-promoting changes. Read below for highlights from this school year.
Healthy Schools Highlights
Thanks to fundraising and a grant from Grow Pittsburgh, Patricia Withers, health and physical education instructor, transformed her classroom into a healthy and fun learning environment for students. There are now seedlings growing in edible garden beds right outside the classroom window. Her new and improved classroom also provides a place for students to unwind and unplug from electronic devices, earning them extra credit.
Arlington partnered with Adagio Health to bring in the Power Up! Program for nutrition education. Arlington also partnered with Mercy Behavioral Health to add more counselors for mental health programming. Zumba classes for both students and staff further contributed to creating a sense of school community. Next year, Arlington looks forward to utilizing the grant they received from Fuel Up to Play 60! to implement more healthy activities.
To increase physical activity, Arsenal PreK–5 teachers started brain breaks in their classrooms. “This not only improved the amount of time children were physically active during the day, it also improved the mood of the class,” said Healthy Schools Leader Allison Henry. Arsenal also partnered with the Parks Conservancy, Lawrenceville United, Pittsburgh Heat Dance Company, and Garden of Mind Yoga to introduce different types of physical activity to students.
Congratulations Brashear! Brashear High School earned the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s 2016 National Healthy Schools Bronze Award for making changes that promote healthier eating and physical activity for students and staff. “This award demonstrates our school’s commitment to promoting the health of our students and staff,”said Megan Perfetti, health and physical education instructor. “We know that healthier students show up to school ready to learn and succeed,” explained Ms. Perfetti.
Want to learn more about how to qualify for the Bronze Award? Click here.
Pittsburgh CAPA took a big drink of water this year with the “Water Wednesday” campaign. The campaign encouraged students, teachers, and other school staff to drink more water and cut down on sugary beverages. CAPA also created the "Rethink Your Drink" campaign where students recited water facts during the morning announcements and displayed posters throughout the school. CAPA provided free refillable water bottles to both students and staff to encourage them to make the healthy change.
Dilworth has great support from teachers, parents, and volunteers on its healthy school initiatives. Dilworth currently offers 12 after-school activities for students in all grade levels to enjoy such as sports and fitness and leisure activities (fishing, swimming, etc.). Kenneth Lukitsh, health and physical education instructor, described the successes of the program as "an opportunity for every child in our school to participate in some sort of activity."
The students and staff at Grandview started healthy snack bags and a fresh fruit and vegetable program at their school. Students can now enjoy a healthy option of fruit for their mid-morning snack, thanks to PPS Food Services!
Classroom teachers at Lincoln were motivated to be more active and to reach their action plan goals by implementing brain breaks in the classroom. School Social Worker Monica White described the brain breaks as “a way to get students up and moving away from mental tasks and to promote physical activity.”
With help from Grow Pittsburgh, Minadeo planted a learning garden, inspired by teacher Michele Scott-Blum's classroom plants. With the school garden a success, Minadeo then started a Farm to Table movement within the school to promote healthy eating. The students are delighted and always eager to work on the garden while enjoying the fruits of their labor. One student’s reaction from planting a seedling for the first time was "Hey, I'm touching dirt and worms!"p>
“I’ve had kale chips at school!” is something new to hear from students at Montessori. The wellness committee at Montessori leveraged their school garden to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in the classroom. Students helped harvest, prepare, and taste what they grew and voted on what they enjoyed most. Kids from preschool to 5th grade learned about the science, nutrition, and flavors of what their garden was producing while also enjoying more outdoor activity time.
The Healthy Schools Program helped Morrow this year by identifying and sharing resources. This helped Morrow move toward their goals and provided motivation and inspiration to the teachers, students, and parents. Morrow organized culinary classes on healthy cuisine for the students and community to utilize during the school year.
Dave Breingan described Woolslair as an "otherwise concrete space" but with help from Lawrenceville United and a Let's Move Pittsburgh grant, a concrete space was transformed into a lush green garden. Students now enjoy freshly grown produce with their Wooly Pockets Hanging Garden. Woolslair also started Family Fitness Nights to get families up and moving!
We are looking forward to expanding the Healthy Schools Program in 2016–17. Please feel free to spread the word and email Britnee Nwokeji at email@example.com with inquiries.
Thank you to Hannah Roberts, Slippery Rock Public Health intern, for gathering information and writing about this year’s highlights.
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