Enter the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit established by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, which "empowers kids to develop lifelong healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health." Its Healthy Schools Program kicked off in 2006 to give schools the tools to improve nutrition and health education and promote physical activity.
The Alliance recently released its 2017 list of America's Healthiest Schools. Read on to find out which schools made the grade and how they did it.
The Criteria1 of 5
Nearly one-third of American children are overweight or obese, and both home and school environments contribute to the issue. When kids go to school to learn, they are often served less-than-nutritious lunches supplemented by junk food from vending machines. They sit at a desk for most of the day with little time for physical activity.
"The Alliance's Healthy Schools Program shows us that school-based interventions work, and that every school can find ways to create healthier environments for students and staff," says President Bill Clinton, Co-Founder.
Healthier kids have better school attendance and improved performance in the classroom, among a myriad of additional benefits. Each of America's Healthiest Schools meets a set of criteria including:
• Meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards for school meals and snacks
• Breakfast offered daily
• Students provided with at least 60 minutes of physical education per week
• Physical activity ensured throughout the school day
States to Celebrate2 of 5
The 2017 list of America's Healthiest Schools includes some 300-plus schools in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Each received the Alliance's National Healthy Schools Award in recognition of exemplary efforts.
The schools that were honored primarily serve students from neighborhoods with high-poverty and high-obesity rates. Nearly half of America's Healthiest Schools are in the following states:
The Best of the Best3 of 5
The National Healthy Schools Award is given in Bronze, Silver or Gold. The following schools achieved Gold status in 2017:
• Robert C. Hatch High School, Uniontown, Ala.
• Wells Middle School, Riverside, Calif.
• Marjorie Rawlings Elementary School, Pinellas Park, Fla.
• Glenwood School, Glendale Heights, Ill.
• Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, New York
• Maxine Smith STEAM Academy, Memphis, Tenn.
• Colonial Hills Elementary School, San Antonio
• Marcell Elementary School, Mission, Texas
• William B. Travis Elementary School, Corpus Christi, Texas
• Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, McAllen, Texas
How They Did It4 of 5
Teamwork: Schools in the neighboring districts of Mission and McAllen, Texas, have joined together in their efforts to provide a healthier environment for kids. The teamwork paid off with a combined 22 schools ranking in 2017.
Focus: The challenges facing a low-income district can seem overwhelming, but St. Louis public schools identified key areas of focus to make positive changes. Refillable water stations and innovative in-school fitness zones are among the programs that helped five schools in the district make the list.
Involve Parents: Lincoln Elementary School in Pryor, Oklahoma, hosts Habits to Ensure Successful Parenting (HESP) each month. The meetings include a nutritious meal for kids and parents, plus tips on continuing the school's health and fitness efforts at home.
Click here to learn more about America's Healthiest Schools.