We are proud to announce that Mahanay Elementary in Alief ISD located in Houston, Texas has received the 2016-2017 Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award for our outstanding efforts in creating an Active School Environment. Alief ISD school programs incorporate the “New Health and PE” model. This new model is more student friendly and helps students learn how to live healthy and physically active lives by making good choices. Through encouragement from our leaders and independent research, Mahanay’s Wellness Committee was introduced to the campaign and immediately took action to participate.
Our Wellness Committee consist of active stakeholders composed of myself as the leader, the school nurse, cafeteria/nutrition manager, classroom teachers, PE Coach, Academic Interventionist, and administrators. Together, we will help develop, implement, and evaluate our success throughout the school year! Our Mahanay Elementary Wellness Committee Mission is to impact every student body along with their families; providing support, tools and resources towards creating their healthier lifestyles and community.
Alief ISD students are very fortunate to receive a student friendly Health Education, starting as early as Kindergarten. As the Health teacher and Wellness Coordinator at Mahanay Elementary, I have bountiful amounts of passion for sharing health, due to my previous and current health obstacles. My health instruction includes, and goes beyond, some of the following topics: The Five Food Groups, Exercise, Staying Active, Childhood Obesity, Portion Distortion, Safety, Social Skills, Tolerance, Character Building, Anatomy and Function of our Body Systems, and Kidpower.
Our PE Coaches provide ample education and opportunities for students to stay active, along with the following programs: Mighty Milers, Jump Rope for Heart, Fuel Up to Play 60, Hoe Down Dance Performance, Field Day, and PE Student of the Month.
Mahanay Elementary has also recently adopted and begun to frequently implement Action Based Learning. Action Based Learning is a brain researched and supported program to move with purpose and grow new brain cells. It has been proven to change the activity and function of the brain, thus resulting in several benefits including improved focus, less fidgeting, improved behavior, better oxygen and blood flow throughout the body, integration of both hemispheres of the brain, increased energy, and increased academic scores.
Classroom teachers incorporate Brain Energizers/ABL Activities within their lesson through a variety of resources: You Tube, Just Dance, Tabata Kids, Go Noodle, The Learning Station, and ABL Academic lessons. This 2016-2017 school year at Mahanay Elementary, we have also been blessed with three Action Based Learning Labs. Through grants, each Lab has been provided with a variety of exercise equipment and materials with specific purpose to improve each student’s learning abilities. Classroom teachers are on a weekly schedule to attend their designated ABL Lab 2-3 times a week, resulting in great overall whole student progress.
Mahanay W.A.T.C.H Week & Health Fair
Each April we provide a week of prevention education through W: Weight (obesity), A: Activity, T: No Tobacco, C: Cholesterol, H: Hypertension during Health class along with extended learning opportunities. Then, we celebrate and share out with our community with a Health Fair welcome to all. At the health fair, we invite community representatives to bring resources and tools, offer free assessments, and performances. We also have stations set up with an inflatable obstacle course, along with other options to engage our community families in movement.
More Student/Community Activities
The past three years at Mahanay, I have initiated the following activities to facilitate healthy living: Partner with Alief YMCA for an Aerobic Kickboxing class with PE Students of the Month, Family Fitness Hour after school, Total Wellbeing Classes for Parents & Intro to Exercise Varieties, Respect Walk, Online Resources, Ring In the New Year Fun Run, Parent Newsletter Healthy Tips, Healthy Tips & Resource Materials/Handouts, and more.
We provide live announcements run by our fourth grade students with little assistance. One of our PE Coaches and I take turns leading Morning Movement. We play music and lead students through a variety of fun and engaging movements, exercises, dances, and/or yoga.
It has been my experience that most teachers put others before themselves, thus resulting in more sickness and chronic disease. Having had many previous health obstacles, it has become my mission to impact as many staff members as possible, educating them about creating a healthier lifestyle, and providing them with opportunities for change! Some opportunity examples have been the following: Fitness Playground fundraising & purchase, Small Exercise Groups, Whole Foods Nutrition Cooking, Fitbit Challenges, Bootcamp, Yoga, Movement with Purpose at Staff Meetings, Tabata Bootcamp, Healthy Tips on announcements, Bulletin Board of Wellness & Recipes, and an online folder with an abundance of Health & Wellness resources.
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.
For more Active Schools success stories, visit www.ssww.com/blog/tag/lets-move-active-schools
About the Author:
My name is Celina Acosta, and I am a wife, mother of two elementary girls, a Lifestyle Fitness Coach, Personal Trainer & Bootcamp Instructor, Health Tech Teacher, Action Based Learning Facilitator, and Wellness Coordinator. I have been an athlete since I was in elementary, and played several sports along with the introduction to weight training. As a young adult, I ventured into endurance running and increased my strength training. While training for a marathon, I endured many injuries which led to Chronic Pain. After giving birth to my second daughter, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia along with other bodily diseases. Yes, my health obstacles have held me back at times, and they have also propelled me to move forward and not give up. I take my life experiences and wisdom gained, and choose to continue to upgrade my life!
My passion for fitness and creating a healthy lifestyle + brain research supported Action Based learning to grow new brain cells and better learners = a generous and purpose driven journey of good health and self-love to share with the world!