Having a strong health and wellness program in your school is very important. We love to highlight schools that have made a difference in physical education. Coach Terri Pitts from Colonial Hills Elementary School shares how her school educated their students and the community about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
Colonial Hills Get’s Active:
Colonial Hills Elementary is located in San Antonio, Texas and has approximately 780 students. It is a bilingual school, and approximately 80% of the families are considered economically disadvantaged. Two years ago our school initiated a Wellness Committee comprised of twelve staff members and six community partners.
We also initiated our Colonial Hills’ KSHAC (Kids School Health Advisory Council). It is a 21 member council of enthusiastic 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students that meet two to three times a month to develop their own ideas on ways they can promote health and wellness through their actions on our campus. They act as leaders by being the voice for the student body as it relates to physical and mental health.
Both committees noticed a need for education on healthy eating and physical activity. School physical education and health classes were not enough. We needed to educate the community as well. We decided to sign up for the Let’s Move! Active Schools program in 2012. It is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! Active Schools is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And helping kids and the community become more physically active.
Our KSHAC and Wellness Committee wanted to make a difference and get the ball rolling. We wanted to make a change by providing fun, educational events not only for the students, but for their local community as well. Furthermore, we wanted to use the resources that Let’s Move! Active Schools provided. We hosted community outreach events that included fun physical activities, educational booths on healthy eating, and presentations from local health advocates. Additionally, Colonial Hills started their first community garden through grant funding. This community garden experience has reconnected students and the community with the natural world and the true source of their food, and has taught them valuable gardening and agriculture concepts. The students are able to use these skills and integrate them with several subjects, such as math, science, art, health and physical education, and social studies, as well as several educational goals including personal and social responsibility. The KSHAC not only wanted to educate the community about health and wellness, they also want to give back. At each event, families were asked to donate one item. Those items will be given to organizations in need. What a wonderful way to give back: educating the community about health and fitness and giving donated items to an organization in need!
One of the biggest events we host are our Annual Community Health Fairs. This involves many community partnerships and collaboration. We have over 30 community members set up booths. Other events we host are Family Fitness Nights and dances involving families and the health and fitness community. This has been a great experience and we plan on working with our community partners for years to come towards a common goal of health and fitness.
Colonial Hills was fortunate enough to be the first elementary school in Northeast ISD in San Antonio to receive a Grab and Go Breakfast Cart from Dairy MAX Fuel Up to Play 60. Our 2013-2014 average was 238 students eating breakfast. After adding the cart, our number of students has increased to 289. This is an increase of 21.43%. That is awesome!
We promoted our breakfast cart and the importance of eating breakfast every morning on our morning announcements. Our morning announcements are broadcasted on a big screen in each classroom throughout the school. The addition of the Grab and Go Breakfast cart not only increased our student breakfast eaters, but we added a new segment to our morning announcements involving nutrition and fitness. Additionally, the whole school does aerobic exercising during a segment called “AM Fit.”
One of the greatest benefits of the Grab and Go Breakfast cart is students can grab their breakfast and go to morning tutoring or morning teams. Normally, eating breakfast in the cafeteria would not allow this. You have to eat in the cafeteria. Our Grab and Go Breakfast Cart is located on a nicely covered patio. We have benches, tables and chairs set up. Some students enjoy the fresh air.
The benefits children receive from eating a nutritious breakfast are numerous and well-documented. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you energy to start a new day, but breakfast is linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved performance.
Colonial Hills also offers extra-curricular activities to promote health and fitness. We offer seasonal sports in the afternoon for free. They include volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track and field. Additionally, we offer morning teams: Speed stacking, jump roping, and running.
Our school has created opportunities for conversations about successes and what is working well, and what we can improve through our KSHAC, Wellness Committee, and the partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools. We have created opportunities for people to collaboratively work on projects together. We invite people to share their perspective and welcome their ideas about how to do things even better. This allows for us to gain stakeholders, and that in turn allows sustainability.
For more Active Schools success stories, visit www.ssww.com/blog/tag/lets-move-active-schools
About Let’s Move! Active Schools:
Let’s Move! Active Schools is a sub-initiative of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. They announced the 2015 National Award recipients which included 525 U.S. schools, recognized for their efforts of increasing physical activity for their students and creating an Active School environment. They are truly School Champions, making a difference in the world of physical education. S&S Worldwide joined Let’s Move! Active Schools to support their goal that Active Kids Do Better.
About the Author:
Coach Terri Pitts has been a Physical Education/Health Teacher for 12 years. She is also certified in Special Education, Classroom Teaching, and English as a Second Language. Terri loves sports and teaching. She is the Chair of the Wellness Committee and the program advisor for the Kids School Health Advisory Council at Colonial Hills Elementary School. She recently received her Master of Education in Educational Leadership.