Ready. Set. Gold. Principals across the country are making a mad dash for what can be described as the Olympics of healthy schools. Redondo Beach Unified School District’s (RBUSD) 12 principals are all stepping up to the starting line.
Huddled in a conference room at Beach Cities Health District (BCHD), they strategize on their application submissions for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the organization that grants the coveted awards and sets national benchmarks to keep health and wellness at the forefront of all school decision-making. This is one of six workgroups that BCHD has facilitated since 2017 to help principals and administrators stay on track for health.
Schools can earn the distinction by successfully meeting a rigorous set of criteria including, serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students more physically active, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become role models. Each recognized school participates in the Alliance’s landmark Healthy Schools Program — one of the nation’s largest school-based childhood obesity prevention initiatives. The 50+ page application, released in December and due in April, requires extensive documentation on the healthy progress schools are making.
“When you get everyone involved in the physical and emotional well-being of children, a stronger community is created with happy children who will grow up to be healthy adults,” explained Karen Mohr, principal of Beryl Heights Elementary. “I’m excited about the family and community involvement.”
Beryl Heights seeks to renew the gold status it earned in 2016—a status that only 10 schools in the country were awarded last year.
Like trained athletes, it is the regular practice of healthy habits that keeps RBUSD’s schools at the top of their game. All 12 of its schools have School Wellness Councils with parent, student, teacher, community and BCHD representatives that set annual health priorities. For some, this means reducing or eliminating unhealthy foods. For others, it is creating health role models and encouraging teachers to stay active through fun FitBit challenges or healthy potlucks.
“It’s great to be able to exchange best practices across all of our schools,” said Jeffrey Winckler, principal at Jefferson Elementary, who is targeting the silver designation. “Bringing back ideas for teachers to connect and compete is energizing.”
As this season closes, RBUSD feels confident about its efforts and commitment to healthy schools. And THAT is worth gold.
Written by Francis Villalpando