59 IDEA Schools Named to 2020 List of America’s Healthiest Schools

IDEA is excited to announce that 59 schools across five Texas regions are among the 517 schools nationwide to earn a spot on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (Healthier Generation) 2020 list of “America’s Healthiest Schools” for their commitment to promoting quality nutrition, regular physical activity, and strong wellness policies.

IDEA has more school winners than any other school district, making IDEA the healthiest school district in the nation! In total, 33 Academy schools and 26 College Preparatory schools were recognized including schools in IDEA Austin, IDEA El Paso, IDEA Rio Grande Valley, IDEA Tarrant County, and IDEA San Antonio.

Though schools were evaluated on practices taking place prior to the COVID-19 school closures, they leveraged strong foundations in wellness and were positioned to prioritize healthy habits throughout the pandemic. Each school promoted good health before and during the pandemic by:

 

  • Increasing education around hand hygiene and promoting healthy behaviors to decrease the spread of COVID-19
  • Adding messaging and signage to all campuses around healthy behaviors (frequent hand washing, social distancing, wearing of face masks)
  • Implementing an SEL curriculum to support scholars’ mental health
  • Educating and promoting Brain Breaks during virtual learning
  • PE teachers hosting virtual gyms so scholars get frequent exercise through virtual learning
  • Farm teams increasing their social media presence to keep scholars engaged “on” their farms while learning virtually
  • Some PE teachers even hosted cooking clubs and encouraged healthy eating by showing “Chopped Junior” on Food Network to get scholars excited about cooking

 

The recognition is a major accomplishment thanks to IDEA’s Healthy Kids Here program. Launched in 2014, Healthy Kids Here is an initiative aimed at making IDEA one of the healthiest school districts in America with three main areas of focus including food, fitness, and instilling healthy habits for the future.

With an emphasis on helping students gain a strong foundation of healthy habits, Healthy Kids Here provides students with healthy meals and snacks each day, five campus farm programs that keep schools supplied with delicious, locally grown, organic produce, physical fitness programs to keep scholars healthy and strong, while educating students and families about the importance of proper hygiene and healthy living.

Health Aides lead the Healthy Kids Here work on each campus, partnering with the Child Nutrition Program and PE coaches throughout the year to deliver health programming and education. This year, Health Aides on each campus spearheaded the application process and led their schools to success.

“The teachers, parents, students, and staff at each of the winning schools recognize the critical role that health plays in learning,” says JoAnn Gama, Co-Founder, CEO, and Superintendent at IDEA Public Schools. “We’re honored to receive this national recognition for supporting the well-being of students and staff and remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering environments where all members of the school community can succeed.”

For nearly 15 years, Healthier Generation’s annual recognition program has honored schools that are implementing best practices that support children’s learning and development, including meeting or exceeding federal standards for nutritious school meals and providing regular opportunities for students and staff to be active throughout the school day. It remains one of the country’s longest-running, nationwide recognition programs honoring schools for achievements in nutrition, physical activity, and wellness policies.

“We commend this cohort of school leaders for prioritizing the essential health needs of students and staff in a time of great challenge and with limited resources at their disposal,” said Kathy Higgins, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “Over time, these awardees established strong foundations in health – allowing them to pivot and adapt to meet acute health and wellness needs in a year unlike any other.”

As members of Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, IDEA works to implement wellness policies and practices that meet federal requirements and support a comprehensive approach to kids’ health. Any school can join Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program to access trainings, resources, and technical assistance by visiting HealthierGeneration.org.

To view the complete list of America’s Healthiest Schools, visit HealthiestSchools.org.

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