By Zerrine K. Bailey, Healthy Schools program manager, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
In early August, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched the America’s Healthiest Schools campaign, recognizing 323 schools across the country that are creating healthier learning environments where children can thrive. As a Healthy Schools Program Manager, I work with 78 Cleveland schools to create sustainable, healthy change for students and staff.
All of America’s Healthiest Schools received National Healthy Schools Awards – a prestigious achievement that celebrates schools that meet or exceed stringent standards for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models.
This year, six Cleveland schools received national recognition for their transformative health and wellness efforts:
- Andrew J. Rickoff
- Artemus Ward
- Ginn Academy
- Miles Park
- Robert H. Jamison
These schools are leaders in the Cleveland Community and in the nationwide movement to create healthier schools for kids. They became America’s Healthiest Schools by going the extra mile. They encouraged their scholars to:
- Get up and move by taking brain breaks during the school day;
- To find time in the week to provide students with a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education time (national recommendation);
- To consume healthier food and beverage snack options during the day;
- To support staff and families in becoming healthier, so they could serve as role models for our young people;
- … and so much more.
Ms. Sharra Wimberly, Fullerton wraparound coordinator, noted:
“The primary business of any school is education. However, research shows that students learn best when they are healthy, safe and feel connected to their school. An investment in a healthy school community is an investment in student success. Here at Fullerton we felt it was important to take a holistic approach to our scholars well-being, so we focused on physical health, mental health along with academics and behaviors. The goal was to promote health and well-being for all members of the school community [scholars, staff and community].”
Every school is capable of becoming one of America’s Healthiest Schools. It starts with each of us committing to support our schools (even in small ways) to reach this goal. Studies show that healthy students learn better. They perform better on tests, get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class. This speaks to the primary business of schools.
If we start today, we can inspire the next generation of healthier young people. To learn more about creating healthier schools in our community, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website.
Zerrine K. Bailey serves as the Healthy Schools Program Manager for Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She is funded through a generous grant from the United Way of Greater Cleveland, St. Luke’s Foundation, and Mt. Sinai HealthCare Foundation to work with 78 schools within Cleveland Metropolitan School District to create sustainable healthy changes for students and staff.