In 2009, 43 percent of the approximately 900 students in this rural Wisconsin school district were overweight or obese—but today, that rate is down by more than 30 percent. The district has implemented a number of changes to help students grow up at a healthy weight.
The district’s students are eating healthier at school:
- Meals are healthier, modeled on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. There are more fruit and vegetable options, more whole grains and salt is being incrementally reduced.
- On most days, 1% and skim milk are the only milk options in the cafeteria.
- Retrofitted water filling stations, specialized to fill water bottles, were installed above pre-existing drinking fountains. Each student was given a water bottle and encouraged to drink water in the classroom throughout the day.
- The foodservice staff has adopted new nutrition analysis software, to help build healthy, age-appropriate menus and post nutrition facts online.
- Health and home economics students lead their classmates in lessons on health and nutrition, through peer-teaching projects.
With help from the local Tri-County Medical Society, school leaders also applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Carol M. White Physical Education—and received $975,000 to help students get moving. Additional in-kind donations brought total funding to $1.3 million.
The district has used the grant to expand students’ opportunities for activity beyond competitive sports, and to help create healthy, lifelong personal habits. The district’s investments include:
- New playground equipment;
- A 40-foot-long, 10-foot-high climbing wall;
- In-line skates, snowshoes, canoes, kayaks, cross-country skis and mountain bikes; and
- Indoor exercise equipment, such as treadmills, elliptical machines and weight machines.
The upper Midwest’s cold winters mean that being active isn’t always easy, but students in the Chetek-Weyerhaeuser Area School District are learning fun ways to stay active year-round.