Parents play a critical role in promoting and implementing initiatives that improve school-based foods, nutrition education, physical activity and physical education.
Action for Healthy Kids recognizes that informed and empowered parents are best positioned to help drive changes in school wellness programs. The national grassroots network celebrates Healthy School Heroes for their outstanding efforts and dedication to ensure students are exposed to nutritious foods, are physically active and are ready to learn.
Three PTA moms showed how the power of parents are a key element in creating a healthy school environment.
Dana Dougherty is a mom and substitute teacher at Oakridge Elementary School in Arlington, Va. who saw a great need to address obesity in her children’s school. She worked with her PTA to set up the 2FIT2QUIT team—parents and teachers seeking to create a healthier, more fit lifestyle for kids.
Dana—who bikes to school with her three kids whenever possible—arranged (with the 2FIT2QUIT team) a number of 5k runs, family fitness fairs, walk-and-bike to school Wednesdays, a summer fitness challenge, baseball clubs and farm visits. The school also hosts a special 3T day, which stands for, “We take care of ourselves, we take care of each other, we take care of this place.”
Greta Massetti—a mom from Champion at Evansdale Elementary School in Doraville, Ga.—wants the best for her children and their classmates. When Greta first came across the school garden, it was completely overgrown and neglected. She spent many Saturdays alongside other parents and her kids to bring it back to life with freshly planted tomatoes, spinach, peas, pumpkins, zucchini, peppers, flowers and a large Muscatine vine.
Through her work with the school’s wellness committee she was able to start a:
- Take 10! program to promote physical activity in the classrooms
- Produce of the Month program to promote the benefits of healthy eating for kids at lunch
- Junior Garden Club
Healthy School Hero Kelly Miller, PTA wellness chair for Laurel Woods Elementary School in Laurel, Md., believes that when children are involved in food preparation, they become more involved in their own health. She has used this understanding not only in raising her two children but also to drive her school’s wellness policies.
Kelly has been instrumental in introducing the school and its students to a vast array of wellness clubs and opportunities. She started by establishing a chapter of Girls on the Run, with a focus on healthy body image. She then:
- Heavily promoted National Turn Off Your TV Week
- Created posters around the cafeteria to keep healthy food choices top of mind
- Changed the focus of the school’s annual picnic to include more movement and friendly family competition
It takes the entire community to make schools healthier environments for our children—from school districts to parents, and everyone can be a Healthy School Hero. Get involved today and become a powerful force for change in your child’s school.
Action for Healthy Kids is a nationwide grassroots network mobilizing schools, parents and volunteers in support of school-based nutrition and physical activity that lead to lifelong healthy habits and academic success for all kids.
Dana Dougherty runs a 5k with her two sons and the Oakridge Elementary 2FIT2QUIT team.
Greta Massetti rejuvenates the Evansdale Elementary school garden with the help of students and staff.
Kelly Miller started a chapter of Girls on the Run to promote physical activity and healthy body image for students at Laurel Woods Elementary.