Local schools helping students make healthy choices

Published 12:13 pm Friday, August 28, 2015

As they head back to school, the students in two Butler County schools are benefiting from their schools’ commitment to student health and wellness.

In recognition of their success in making the changes needed to help students and staff to eat healthier and move more, Greenville Elementary School and W.O. Parmer Elementary School will be recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in October at its 2015 Leaders Summit.

The two Butler County schools are part of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, which supports nearly 30,000 schools nationwide in their efforts to create healthier school environments. These two schools are being honored for having met or surpassed the program’s rigorous standards covering school food, physical activity, employee wellness, and wellness policies.

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Every day at Greenville Elementary School is packed with opportunities for physical activity. To ensure that students enjoy many ways to get moving, the school added a daily recess period and extended the length of physical education classes.

Many students participate in a variety of afterschool sports and physical activity programs. Greenville’s homeroom classes also competed in an academic competition, and the winning classes enjoyed a game of kickball. The staff is making an effort to increase their physical activity as well; groups of staff members get together for afterschool fitness training at least two days a week. Healthy eating is also a top priority at GES, where the cafeteria is decorated with informational posters about how to make healthy choices and students receive nutrition education as part of their health classes.

Promoting healthy eating habits is also a top priority at W.O. Parmer Elementary School, where students can sample a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables – including blueberries, spinach and pears – in the school cafeteria.

All competitive foods sold at the school align with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards, and vending machines are stocked with water and other healthy beverages instead of sugary drinks.

The nutritious food options go hand-in-hand with new physical activity opportunities to create a healthier environment at W.O. Parmer. In addition to their physical education classes, students also participate in an afterschool aerobics club and sports programs. The school encourages students to walk to school and offers onsite wellness screenings for staff.

“We applaud the achievements of these schools and hope that schools across the country follow the example of these two schools from Butler County,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, Alliance for a Healthier Generation CEO. “These schools demonstrate a commitment to the health of their students. This is particularly important because research shows students’ health has an impact on their academic and lifelong success.”

The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program was founded with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Over the past decade, the Alliance has helped to dramatically transform the nutritional quality of food served in schools nationwide through landmark agreements with the food and beverage industry and by providing tools and resources to school leaders through its Healthy Schools Program.  Any school in the United States can enroll in the Healthy Schools Program atschools.healthiergeneration.org to create healthy change at no cost.