The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, has recognized 179 schools from across the country for transforming their campuses into healthier places for students and staff. President Bill Clinton, American Heart Association Chairman Neil Meltzer, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey presented awards during an event in New York City.
Among the honorees, 18 schools were chosen in the Los Angeles area as recipients of this national recognition. These schools include:
ÔÇó Ramona Elementary School ÔÇô Alhambra
ÔÇó Fremont Elementary School ÔÇô Alhambra
ÔÇó Burbank Elementary School ÔÇô Burbank
ÔÇó John F. Kennedy Elementary ÔÇô Artesia
ÔÇó Niemes Elementary ÔÇô Artesia
ÔÇó Rio Vista Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó Cortada Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó Le Gore Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó Shirpser Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó Cherrylee Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó New Lexington Elementary School - El Monte
ÔÇó Wilkerson Elementary School ÔÇô El Monte
ÔÇó Aloha Elementary School ÔÇô Lakewood
ÔÇó Lucille J. Smith Elementary School ÔÇô Lawndale
ÔÇó Mark Twain Elementary School ÔÇô Lawndale
ÔÇó Monterey Highlands Elementary School ÔÇô Monterey Park
ÔÇó Repetto Elementary School ÔÇô Monterey Park
ÔÇó Ynez Elementary School ÔÇô Monterey Park
In its efforts to become a healthier school community, Ynez Elementary School increased the opportunities for physical activity while also decreasing the amount of unhealthy foods available on campus. Upper-grade students participate in an extra 35 minutes of physical education per week during recess and all students participate in the JAMmin' Minutes program of in-class physical activity routines. To demonstrate their support of the national "Let's Move" campaign to prevent childhood obesity, students wrote letters to First Lady Michelle Obama about their experiences with healthy eating and physical activity as stewards of the Healthy Schools Program.
This year marked the debut of a nutritional advisory council (NAC) composed of students who promote physical activity and healthy choices among their peers. Next year, the NAC will expand on its role by sponsoring healthy eating and physical activity events during recess. All PTA fundraisers have switched to selling only healthy or non-food items, and the school store sells only healthy snacks. Cafeteria lunches now include a salad-of-the-day that is available to staff as well as students. The school acknowledges the important role parents play in healthy eating by providing nutrition education classes through the school district's participation in the Network for a Healthy California.
The Alliance's Healthy Schools Program provides free assistance to more than 9,000 schools nationwide to help them reverse the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Schools are eligible for Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum National Recognition Awards as a result of implementing health-promoting programs. More than 350 National Recognition Awards have been presented to schools since 2006.
"It is clear that the momentum is building. In the past year, we have seen the Healthy Schools Program grow from 5,000 schools to more than 9,000," said Ginny Ehrlich, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. "We hope that every person interested in making a difference in the health of a school will join our Healthy Schools Network and become eligible to be nationally recognized for their efforts in future years."
Many of the 179 schools recognized this year have diverse student populations, and more than two-thirds are located in lower-income communities. Each has distinguished itself with healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards set by the Alliance's Healthy Schools Program.
"Although the Healthy Schools Program aims to make all schools healthy, it has a special focus on communities most affected by the childhood obesity epidemic," Lavizzo-Mourey said. "The schools celebrated this year show how much can be done from the cafeteria to the playground. Tough budget times and other challenges are no match for the commitment and creativity of administrators, teachers, parents and students."
Earlier this year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation became a Founding Member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, the independent, nonpartisan organization created to support the goals of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign.
The Healthy Schools Program is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Any U.S. school can enroll and receive free assistance and support to become a healthier place for students to learn and staff to work. Find out more at HealthierGeneration.org.