McKINNEY (Nov. 3, 2015) — “I’ve never eaten so many fruits and vegetables – and I feel great!” said one Bennett Elementary School student of the campus’s “Taste it Tuesday” cafeteria offerings recently.

The excitement behind such a statement borders on the miraculous to the ears of many parents and educators. The troubling rate of obesity among school-age children in Texas – 36.6 percent across the state, according to Alliance for a Healthier Generation – has been well documented and frequently reported. But, McKinney ISD is doing its part to buck that trend.

Getting kids excited about broccoli florets and apple slices is one piece of the puzzle in the effort to create healthy schools inhabited by healthy kids. But, enhancing the culture of a campus requires a comprehensive, district-wide focus that addresses not only what’s available in the cafeteria but also programs in the classroom and a positive culture that leads to kids actually choosing those healthier options.

It includes talking about the benefits of physical activity and then providing plenty of opportunities to engage in it. Such a culture requires a district-level wellness policy and active School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) at the district and campus level to keep things moving in the right direction. And, it requires the engaged, enthusiastic participation of everybody from the school nurse to the P.E. teacher to the moms and dads waiting in the morning drop-off line.

For such efforts across MISD, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation has awarded National Healthy Schools Awards to all 28 McKinney ISD elementary, middle and high schools – making MISD one of only three districts in the nation this year who can claim all of their campuses as award winners. Twenty-four schools earned Bronze Awards, and four campuses – McClure Elementary, Malvern Elementary, Reuben Johnson Elementary and Webb Elementary – earned Silver Awards. In October, representatives from each MISD campus traveled to the 2015 Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. to officially receive the awards.

“McKinney ISD continues to be committed to our belief that healthy schools are a vital part of our students’ ability to succeed in all facets of education,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel. “I am extremely proud that each of our campuses has been recognized with this important distinction. Additionally, I'd like to recognize Director of Health Services Julie Blankenship and Health and P.E. Coordinator Karin Klemm for their efforts in maintaining our district-wide focus toward this endeavor.”

That endeavor has been in motion for several years. Since 2010, seven MISD campuses have earned national Gold Award recognition from the Let’s Move! HeatlhierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) and 28 have earned at least one HUSSC award during that time. In 2011, Burks Elementary became the first MISD campus named a Healthy Zone School by United Way and the Cooper Institute, and since then, 17 other MISD campuses have become either Healthy Zone Schools or Healthy Zone in Training Schools.

Earning a National Healthy Schools Award is no easy task. Indeed, printing out the assessment guide that details the requirements will set you back about 40 sheets of paper. But, once Klemm and Blankenship set their sights on those awards, the goal has been for every campus to earn one. Last year, 19 campuses achieved that.

“It’s very difficult,” said Klemm. “It took two years for our campuses to get to the point where they would get the bronze level because the Alliance for a Healthier Generation calls for schools to be so far above and beyond what most schools do. But, I think all of the different health-related awards that we’ve won prior to this year demonstrate that we have a very healthy school district – this just puts us a step ahead.”

And in the battle against childhood obesity, you can never run too far ahead.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

 

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. The Alliance works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals and families to build healthier environments for millions of children. To learn more and join the movement, visit HealthierGeneration.org.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.