According to the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health, more than 30 percent of Texas children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. And, while that number is certainly troubling, the good news is that obesity rates have followed a slightly downward trend over the last few years. McKinney ISD schools are doing their part to keep things headed in that direction.
This year, five McKinney ISD campuses have been named Healthy Zone Schools by the Cooper Institute® (CI), and four have been named Healthy Zone In-Training Schools:
|2013 MISD New Healthy Zone Schools||2013 MISD New Healthy Zone In-Training Schools|
|Caldwell Elementary*||McGowen Elementary|
|Eddins Elementary||Press Elementary|
|Finch Elementary*||Dowell Middle School|
|McClure Elementary*||McKinney High School|
*promoted from In-Training
These Healthy Zone Schools join four other McKinney ISD campuses already on the list—Burks Elementary, Minshew Elementary, Walker Elementary and Malvern Elementary. The District now boasts nine Healthy Zone Schools, accounting for nearly half of the Collin County campuses who have achieved that distinction. (To view the complete list click here.)
“McKinney ISD Coordinated Health teams demonstrate a high level of commitment to the health of our students by promoting health, physical activity and nutrition; not only in school, but also outside of school,” said Karen Klemm, McKinney ISD Health and PE Coordinator. “McKinney ISD is leading the way in health and wellness among our students, staff and the community.”
The Healthy Zone School Recognition Program began three years ago when CI partnered with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD) to support the fight against childhood obesity by recognizing a handful of select schools each year for their outstanding efforts to promote health and wellness among their students.
Evaluation of campuses for Healthy Zone or Healthy Zone in Training recognition revolves around how effectively those schools are addressing eight components of coordinated health: 1) health education; 2) healthy and safe school environment; 3) counseling and mental health services; 4) parent and community involvement; 5) staff wellness promotion; 6) health services; 7) physical education and 8) nutrition services.
Schools that are achieving outstanding results in all areas can apply for Healthy Zone recognition while schools seeking to improve some components can apply for Healthy Zone in Training status. Those schools receive help from CI to help them achieve their health goals and, ideally, to be promoted to the Healthy Zone School list.
In addition to CI’s expert support, Healthy Zone and Healthy Zone in Training schools also receive $1,500 in funding for Physical Education equipment and other PE, health or nutrition-related materials along with $1,500 for activity promotions.
Addressing all eight coordinated health areas effectively is no small task, but by implementing a wide range of strategies, from relatively simple—posting health-related articles in the PTA newsletter—to more involved events such as Family Fitness Nights, these campuses are pushing forward to reduce childhood obesity and establish healthy habits that will benefit their students for years to come.
“We were thrilled to receive this recognition,” said Principal Fran Gratt of Wolford Elementary where the aforementioned Family Fitness Night is implemented along with walking clubs, food challenges, physical activity challenges and other health-related activities. “Our staff is dedicated to ensure that our students are healthy—both in body and mind. Our nurse and PE coaches have done a great deal to promote this initiative at Wolford.”
Principal Sharon Havard of Eddins Elementary also felt honored that her campus received recognition and said that they are up to the challenge of continuing to promote the importance of building a healthy lifestyle.
“When students are healthy all around, they are able to make so many more gains academically,” Havard said. “So, this is why Eddins will be educating our community about the importance of being healthy!”
But, it’s not just the elementary schools who are getting on board with healthier living. This year, Dowell Middle School and McKinney High School joined the ranks of Healthy Zone In-Training Schools.
Dr. Logan Faris is principal of McKinney High School, the first high school to be named to either of the Healthy Zone or In-Training lists. “McKinney High School is excited to be a part of the Healthy Zone School program with the Cooper Institute and The United Way. We are working to not only improve the learning environment at MHS with our new building, but also to improve the health of our learners. McKinney High School is committed to promoting proper nutrition and an active life style to leverage this for improved learning,” Faris said.
With McKinney ISD schools tackling the issue of childhood obesity at all three levels, the benefits for their students promise to extend beyond health.
“This award is of great significance to the District,” Klemm said. “The three year program will show data of the improvement of not only student health, but also academic improvement in these schools. Our goal as a district is to set the standard in health and wellness and to help McKinney become the healthiest city in the nation.”
Healthy minds in healthy bodies. Now that’s a trend worth chasing.
Story submitted by Shane Mauldin, MISD