Many schools in Northern Kentucky are actively shaping the health and wellness of their students and staff. The Northern Kentucky Health Department supports these efforts through its school health initiatives. As a part of this, the Award of Excellence in School Health was developed to recognize and celebrate schools in Northern Kentucky that have policies, programs, and the infrastructure to support and promote school health.
This year, 11 Northern Kentucky schools will be recognized with either a gold, silver or bronze level Award of Excellence in School Health. The schools will receive the award during the second annual coordinated school health symposium, “Healthy Schools, It Takes A Village,” at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at Scott High School, 5400 Old Taylor Mill Road, Taylor Mill, Ky.
“The awards program is one way the Health Department can help motivate and empower schools to create a healthy environment for students, staff and faculty,” said Lynne Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “Presenting the awards at the coordinated school health symposium is a perfect opportunity to recognize the excellent work of these 11 schools among their peers. The conference provides educators, school administrators, parents, health/nutrition professionals and community leaders with an opportunity to network and share best practices, evidence-based programs, and policy-related tools to improve the school environment.”
To be eligible for the awards, schools completed a comprehensive application form that assessed the areas of physical activity and nutrition, staff wellness, and school environment that enhances emotional and mental health and student safety.
Schools could win awards at one of three levels: bronze, silver or gold, based on the number of points they earned towards the award criteria.
“The Awards of Excellence in School Health are designed to promote a progressive approach, meaning that a school receiving a bronze level award in the past must attain silver level status to get funding this time,” said Saddler. “Of the 11 schools to receive this year’s award, five showed improvement from the award level received in previous award cycles: Grant County High School in Dry Ridge (silver to gold), Longbranch Elementary in Union (bronze to silver), Sherman Elementary in Dry Ridge (silver to gold), Southgate Public School in Southgate (bronze to gold), and Walton-Verona Elementary in Verona (bronze to silver).”
Some innovative activities were noted by the
reviewers of the award applications, such as:
Bronze level awards (one school)
- Latonia Elementary in Covington: Physical activity is built in to the students’ school day at least twice a week, with a Monday Mile walking program and the Take 10 program, a curriculum that incorporates 10 minutes of physical activity in to classroom work. Further, 71 percent of Latonia students attend after school fitness clubs.
Silver level awards (seven schools)
- Dry Ridge Elementary in Dry Ridge: The school has changed its rewards program, so prizes are not sugary/unhealthy foods, but rather activities, like pajama day and extra recess. Fruit and vegetable trays are requested as snacks for in-class parties and celebrations. Dry Ridge also has a 100-percent tobacco-free campus, which prohibits the use of tobacco by anyone on school grounds and during any school activity—on-site or off.
- Fort Wright Elementary in Fort Wright: Students at Fort Wright get 30 or more minutes of physical activity during the school day via planned physical activity, recess, morning exercises and weekly physical education classes. Additional activity is available through after-school programs like Girls on the Run, exercise club and basketball teams. Fort Wright also builds students’ self-esteem, with an award program for students who complete service learning projects and the One-to-One program, a mentorship program for community members to help students with reading skills.
- Hillard Collins Elementary in Florence: Besides using evidenced-based health curricula, the school revised its wellness policy to require healthy foods for classroom parties/snacks and classroom incentives. Teachers now use a bead reward system as immediate behavior incentives in class.
- Longbranch Elementary in Union: The school provides emotional support for children by offering group counseling programs focusing on students of divorced parents, students having difficulty making friends, or students struggling socially in the classroom. To improve nutrition, Longbranch eliminated unhealthy options from its cafeteria and requires healthy snacks for classroom activities.
- North Pointe Elementary in Hebron: The school gives its students a variety of options for active play, with a 40-foot rock climbing wall and an outdoor movement lab, three playgrounds, a nature trail and hiking path. Further, the trail and path were created by a fourth grade class as part of a service-learning project.
- Stephens Elementary in Burlington: Stephens students have health messages integrated with philanthropy. For example, they raised funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s walk and students learned about the disease. The school has improved nutrition by offering a variety of fruits and vegetables, and organizing healthier classroom rewards and fundraisers by partnering with local restaurants.
- Walton-Verona Elementary in Verona: The school wellness policy emphasizes employee health. The school has an agreement to allow staff to use the local high school fitness center, and staff also have access to fitness classes. Students benefit from community outreach programs, like Food for Thought, the Giving Tree and holiday basket-making for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Gold level awards (three schools)
- Grant County High School in Dry Ridge: The high school students and staff benefit from comprehensive policies on zero-bullying and tobacco. The tobacco-free campus policy covers all school property, sports arenas and field trips and applies to students, staff and visitors. Grant County High also offers preventative health services to staff such as mammogram van visits, oxygen saturation checks, blood pressure screenings and vaccinations.
- Sherman Elementary in Dry Ridge: Sherman students receive extensive health services at school such as health case management, health records maintenance, health screenings, and treatment for acute illness and injury. The school has also partnered with the community, with volunteers logging more than 2,200 volunteer hours this school year and school staff participating in the FFLAG (Fitness for Life Around Grant County) coalition.
- Southgate Public School in Southgate: Students have the opportunity to try non-traditional foods such as hummus and garbanzo beans in the cafeteria and at taste testing events, and are offered grilled or baked meats rather than fried. Southgate also encourages children to walk or bike to school with the installation of a bike rack and sidewalk.
In recognition of their efforts to improve their school-health status, each school will receive gift certificates to support physical activity, nutrition and staff wellness and a plaque and banner to hang in the school.
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