The Alliance for a Healthier Generation announced today that participation in the organization’s Healthy Schools Program reached an all-time high with more than 10,000 schools now actively working with the Alliance to make their schools healthier places for students to learn and staff to work. Founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the Healthy Schools Program in 2006 with just 231 schools in 13 states across the country. The Healthy Schools Program was initiated with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has committed $28 million to the program.
“We recognize the immense efforts schools must undertake to make their campuses healthier places,” said Ginny Ehrlich, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “The fact that more than 10,000 schools are dedicated to this mission and are participating in the Healthy Schools Program means millions of students across America will live healthier lives.”
The Healthy Schools Program takes a comprehensive approach to helping schools create healthier environments by working to improve access to more nutritious foods; increase physical activity opportunities before, during and after school; enhance nutrition education; and establish school employee wellness programs.
Participating schools have access to a team of more than 60 health and education professionals who work directly with schools and school stakeholders to help implement healthier policies and practices. Participating schools also are offered tools and resources online, including nutritional databases and Web-based trainings that can help increase access to physical activity and healthier foods. Each participating school has a unique story.
Northeast Elementary Magnet School
Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville, Ill., is home to a diverse student population in a rural area of the state that suffers from high unemployment and a subsequent lack of health care. For four years, Northeast worked to become one of the healthiest schools in America—overcoming obstacles and creating solutions to ensure its students and staff had ongoing and consistent access to nutritious food and physical activity. By increasing weekly physical education by 50 minutes and substituting cupcakes with fruit kabobs, Northeast’s staff and students embraced a commitment to health and wellness. “After participating in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program for four years, eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity are no longer new for our students. It’s just who we are and what we do effortlessly,” said Northeast Elementary Principal Cheryl McIntire.
Memorial High School
In the urban neighborhood of West New York, N.J., approximately 1,800 students of mostly Hispanic backgrounds fill the classrooms of Memorial High School. The school is a model of health and wellness and met the Alliance’s rigorous Healthy Schools Program criteria by offering kids robust options for physical activity and nutritious eating. The staff attends weekly exercise boot camp classes, students participate in fitness clubs led by a personal trainer and everyone is benefiting from the healthy options offered in the cafeteria. Rather than bask in the glow of its success, Memorial High is using its achievements to inspire other schools in its district and surrounding areas to prioritize and improve upon their wellness efforts.
West Bolivar Middle School
Rosedale, Miss., is a rural town, and many of its residents are struggling financially. However, this did not stop one of its local schools, West Bolivar Middle School, from exposing students to positive health and wellness options. West Bolivar’s teachers served as role models and made a commitment to regular exercise and nutritious food. Staff and faculty teamed up and held a weight loss challenge and hosted power walking activities. The school also created a small fitness room for faculty and staff to use before school, during planning periods, during lunch and after school. For students, the school increased time for physical education classes and decreased the availability of junk food in the cafeteria, vending machines and at parties. West Bolivar holds monthly breakfasts to inform the community of the healthy changes taking place and to help encourage teachers, parents and students to participate in the program.
Any school or individual can enroll in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program online at www.HealthierGeneration.org.
About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to address one of the nation’s leading public health threats—childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. Founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation, the Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: homes, schools, doctor’s offices and communities.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.
While the need to address disparities in care is well known, few strategies for reducing disparities have been studied systematically.
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