Health is probably our most precious asset. But for millions of American children, their health is compromised because they’re obese or overweight. Today, about 20% of all schoolchildren in the United States are obese, a percentage that has tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet, some positive changes are underway. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which empowers children to develop lifelong healthy habits, recently recognized 323 schools in 30 states and the District of Columbia as America’s Healthiest Schools.
To earn this distinction the schools had to meet certain criteria, such as:
- Meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards for school meals and snacks
- Offering breakfast daily
- Implementing district wellness policies and updating progress annually
- Providing students with at least 60 minutes of physical education a week and ensuring physical activity throughout the school day
“Every child deserves to go to a healthy school. We couldn’t be prouder to recognize these schools for leading the way,” Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, said in a statement. “The administrators, food service staff, physical educators, classroom teachers, and parents in these communities have all worked incredibly hard to prioritize student health and set kids on a path to lifelong success, both in and out of the classroom.”
Gold, Silver, Bronze
National Healthy Schools Awards were awarded at the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level. This year 10 schools received the Gold:
Robert C. Hatch High School, Uniontown, AL
Wells Middle School, Riverside, CA
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Elementary School, Pinellas Park, FL
Glenwood School, Glendale Heights, IL
Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, New York, NY
Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, Memphis, TN
Colonial Hills Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Marcell Elementary School, Mission, TX
William B. Travis Elementary School, Corpus Christi, TX
Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, McAllen, TX
I asked Patricia Maiden, a teacher of English and history at Robert C. Hatch High School in Alabama, to what did she attribute the obesity epidemic. By email she told me technology, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of activity. “Living in the South,” she said, “obesity seems to be all too common.”
But Maiden also said she’s “proud to be part of a program that educates our students about the benefits of becoming healthier. If we teach our students how to be healthy kids, one day they’ll be healthy adults.”
For more information about the criteria schools had to meet in order to be recognized, visit this website.