A dozen Kentucky schools have been recognized for creating a culture of health and wellness in the classroom.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing childhood obesity, has given the schools the National Healthy Schools Award for promoting the benefits of a healthy diet and physical activity to students and staff.
Jacy Wooley, Healthy Schools project manager, said this is the first time so many Kentucky schools have made the list in the same year. The schools that made the list are all first-time recipients of the designation. There are no Jefferson County schools on this year’s list.
“Over the past three years, I think that more of the schools — and school leaders, especially — have recognized the importance that the entire culture plays into creating a healthy learning environment,” she said.
The childhood obesity rate for 10-to-17-year-olds in Kentucky is 19.7 percent, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That’s the eighth-worst in the country. Kentucky ranks 12th among states for obesity rates in the general population.
Matt Robbins, assistant superintendent for Daviess County Public School District, said addressing childhood obesity is a major reason his school district signed up for the Healthier Schools Program three years ago.
Since the district joined the program, it has created physical activities for students and staff through walking and running clubs, he said. And each school has implemented a wellness council to plot their own course to health.
This year, three schools in Daviess County received the award: Daviess County Middle School, Highland Elementary School and Meadow Lands Elementary School.
“One of the huge problems we face in America is obesity, and it’s much better for us to try to attack that through the education setting where we find ourselves in that environment,” Robbins said. “Childhood obesity in particular is one of the things we’re really trying to prevent and target.”
Robbins said the response to the program has been positive. He said it’s not only about changing habits but also about creating a different culture.
“I think it sends the message out, because that’s the direct hint, that we care enough about you that we want to talk to you about these things and how to improve your life, your family’s life and your community’s life,” he said.
Award-winning schools in Kentucky include:
- Butler County Middle School, Butler County School District
- South Edmonson Elementary School, Edmonson County School District
- Panther Academy, Elizabethtown Independent School District
- Grayson County Middle School, Grayson County School District
- Pride Elementary School, Hopkins County School District
- Livingston County Middle School, Livingston County School District
- Rodburn Elementary School, Rowan County School District
- Cumberland Trace Elementary School, Warren County School District
- Jody Richards Elementary School, Warren County School District