Healthy School Teams Creatively Change School Culture

Smoothie 12Looking for ways to inspire students to eat a few more fruits and vegetables and move more, Healthy School Team leaders in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville public schools made use of a creative arsenal of health-boosting activities and materials during the 2013-14 school year.

As a result, the HST Leaders say they’ve noticed kids eating a bit better and getting a little more active. Change takes time, but students are moving in the right direction.

HSTs were created and modeled in Winter Park Consortium schools—Winter Park High School and its 10 elementary and middle feeder schools—with support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) beginning in 2002. The teams—charged with coming up with activities to promote healthy lifestyles for students and staff in their own schools—are now required in every public school in Orange County.

As an added bonus last year, Winter Park Consortium schools received an estimated $48,000 in grants from the Dairy Council of Florida of its Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program to support school activities and materials. (FUTP60 was created by the National Football League in collaboration with the National Dairy Council to decrease child obesity.)

Here are just a few of the highlights from the elementary schools last year:

  • At Aloma Elementary School, Healthy School Team Leader Kathy Styron held smoothie tasting events for students and followed with a smoothie recipe contest to encourage students to create their own healthy smoothie recipes.
  • Audubon Park Elementary hosted the Dairy Council of Florida’s “It Starts With School Breakfast” campaign to encourage kids to eat a healthy breakfast. The festive breakfast party included 300 students from all grades—and a few parents.
  • At Brookshire Elementary School, P.E. Teacher and HST Leader Randi Topps hosts her own webpage, where she offers a variety of fitness and wellness resources, a calendar of healthy school clubs and events,  and she held a “minutes to win it” weight loss competition for staff members.
  • Cheney Elementary School created the Viking Vitality Room, stocked with exercise equipment for staff, and started an after-school physical fitness club for students.
  • Dommerich Elementary School, like Aloma, used FUTP60 grant funds to purchase the Stride Track computer program that enables P.E. staff to track laps run by students by using a hand held scanner. This enables a computer to keep track of the mileage covered by all students.
  • Hungerford’s HST hosted a weight loss competition for staff and supported activities such as Walk n Roll and a global fair for students. Hungerford, along with Lakemont Elementary School, also began making plans to launch Fitnessgrams for the next school year. They are parent- (and student-) friendly reports on each student’s fitness designed to engage parents in the health and fitness of their children.
  • Lake Sybelia Elementary’s HST like several other schools purchased a blender bike—a bicycle with a blender attached. This enables children to blend healthy drinks by providing the pedal power needed to activate the blender.
  • Lakemont Elementary School continued offering its yoga club, succeeded in once again getting students to turn in hundreds of pounds of Halloween candy to be sent to U.S. Troops, and hosted its annual Jingle Bell Run.

To learn more about these and future HST activities, go to the Healthy Kids Today website, created and maintained by WPHF.