Four city schools won recognition this year from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a project of the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, for their efforts to curb childhood obesity. The schools — Edward A Reynolds West Side High School and the High School for Law and Public Service in Manhattan; Edward R Murrow High School in Brooklyn; and PS 76 William Hallet in Queens — are among 267 schools nationally to win the award this year.
Four city schools won the same award in 2011, including The Active Learning Elementary School in Queens, which this year became the first public school in the country to serve only vegetarian fare in its cafeteria. Childhood obesity has fallen in New York City faster than in other cities, and officials say school efforts deserve a share of the credit.
Here’s what the Alliance for a Healthier Generation had to say about this year’s winners, via its press release:
Edward A Reynolds West Side HS, Manhattan
At West Side High School, healthy living is integrated into everyday life for students and staff. Students can join a spin class in the morning or Zumba class in the evenings, and have access to an open gym during lunch time. The school wellness council has developed guidelines for healthy eating in class and has replaced cake at monthly celebrations with fresh green juice. Full staff meetings include 2-minute meditations, and staff is also encouraged to participate in the Zumba class. “Students and staff talk together about how they are making changes in habits to improve health and wellness,” said school wellness leader Jean McTavish. “Students like the idea that they are ‘healthy.’”
Edward R Murrow High School, Brooklyn
Activity levels have increased for both students and staff at E.R. Murrow High School, and with more activity comes more energy, more alertness, and happier faces. The “Student Wellness Suite,” a group that meets before and after school has become the “cool” group to be a part of at E.R. Murrow High School, showing fellow students how awesome, fun, and easy it is to be healthy. More class instruction touches on the importance of nutrition, allowing students and staff to learn something new about food every day. Vending machines stock healthier items while lunches feature more fruits and vegetables. Staff enjoyed socializing while learning some healthy new recipes on professional development days. Overwhelmed by the positive response to the healthy initiatives currently implemented, administration, staff, and students are excited to see continued success this year.
High School for Law and Public Service, Manhattan
At the High School for Law and Public Service, yoga and Pilates classes help students cut the stress while obstacle courses build trust in classmates. The new water-refill station provides students the opportunity to choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages, a choice that many students have enthusiastically adopted. The afterschool cooking club inspires teens to learn how to cook and has allowed them to try foods from a variety of cultures, including those of Thailand, France, and Mexico. The school garden not only provides fresh vegetables for the salad bar, but it also serves as exercise for students as they water, weed, and tend to the garden. Staff enjoyed learning how to make delicious parfaits with whole grains, low-fat dairy, and fruit. The pedometer challenge brought out their competitive edge as well while drastically increasing the amount of walking they did each day. Administrators at the school are thrilled that students and staff have taken control of what they drink and eat to fuel their bodies to lead healthier lives.
PS 76 William Hallet, Queens
Every day at 10:30 a.m., the students of P.S. 076 pause in their schoolwork to take a “fitness break,” which encourages them to keep their bodies active and their minds focused and engaged. Students also take part in the “Mighty Milers” running program before school. Good nutrition is key to a healthy day at the school, and all vending machines sell only water. The cafeteria has a fully stocked salad bar offered to students, and healthy snacks are served during school and afterschool programs. The school has built a full exercise room and provides yoga classes for all staff members to take part in. The wellness council also organizes “Biggest Loser” challenges for staff to build excitement and support as individuals and the school set out to be healthy role models.