The Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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1 The Alliance for a Healthier Generation The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, was formed in 2005 as a response to the dramatic increase in prevalence of childhood obesity across the nation. Currently, as many as 1 in 3 students in most states meet the criteria for overweight or obese. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 by fostering an environment that helps all kids pursue healthy and active lifestyles. To that end the Alliance is working to positively affect the health of children by forging voluntary agreements with the healthcare and food service industries and by working with kids and schools across the nation. Massachusetts 2012 The Alliance believes that helping schools is one of the most efficient and effective ways to shape the lifelong health and well-being of children and adolescents. That is why the Alliance has created the Healthy Schools Program, which aims to improve schools in the areas of nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness. The Alliance launched the Healthy Schools Program in February of 2006 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Major Accomplishments By engaging and activating the leaders who can transform the environments and communities that nurture our children, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Supports more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states in transforming their environments into places where students have better access to physical activity and healthier foods before, during and after school. Works with out-of-school time programs in creating healthier environments and empowering all kids to make healthy choices and become advocates for physical activity and healthy eating. Brokered voluntary agreements with the beverage, snack and dairy industries that has contributed to an 88 percent decrease in total beverage calories shipped to U.S. schools between 2004 and Negotiated agreements with 13 of the leading school meals manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies to develop, market and competitively price healthier school meal options. Convened national medical associations, leading insurers and employers that agreed to offer comprehensive health benefits to children and families for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. A Quick Look at Childhood Obesity in Massachusetts Percentage of children ages years who are overweight or obese 1 MA State rank for overweight or obese children (1 is best) 1 22 Estimated adult obesity-attributable medical expenditures, (in 2003 dollars) 2 National 30.0% 31.6% $1,822 M Rank in 2003: 21 $75 Billion National Survey of Children s Health edition of F as in Fat, published by Trust for America s Health.

2 The Healthy Schools Program The Alliance believes that helping schools is one of the most efficient and effective ways to shape the lifelong health and well-being of children and adolescents. That is why the Alliance has created the Healthy Schools Program, which aims to improve schools in the areas of nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness. The Alliance launched the Healthy Schools Program in February of 2006 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Healthy Schools Program provides technical support to schools across the country in their efforts to engage the entire school community (including administrators, parents and school vendors) in increasing access to physical activity and healthier foods for students and staff. In addition to providing schools with best practice resources and support, the Healthy Schools Program recognizes successful schools through a national award program. The work of the Healthy Schools Program is based on the Healthy Schools Program Framework, a set of best practice guidelines developed by a national panel of experts that serves as a roadmap for creating a healthier school environment. These guidelines form the basis of the National Recognition Program which awards schools at the Bronze, Silver or Gold levels based on the policy and programmatic changes made in seven separate areas; School Meals Competitive Foods and Beverages Health Education Physical Education Policy and Systems Employee Wellness Student Wellness The Healthy Schools Program outlines the course of action for making sustainable changes in its Six Step Process: Step 1: Convene a school wellness council to plan and lead implementation of the Healthy Schools Program in the school. Step 2: Complete the Inventory in the Healthy Schools Builder to identify areas for improvement. Step 3: Develop an Action Plan based on what is important and achievable in the school community. Step 4: Identify resources that can facilitate implementation of the Action Plan. Step 5: Take Action! Follow the Action Plan to create a healthier school environment. Step 6: Celebrate Success! The Healthy Schools Program works with schools to celebrate small victories and big successes along the way. Every school has support from a Healthy Schools Program staff member who works one-on-one with the school to meet its wellness goals. Schools also have access to a team of staff with expertise in each content area. These content experts are available to support schools through phone or consultations, online trainings and professional development opportunities. Schools are able to access a wide variety of information and resources on the Healthy Schools Program website at healthiergeneration.org. Schools will find hundreds of success stories from schools around the country, toolkits that provide step-by-step information for meeting the best practice criteria, a wealth of local, state and national resources and funding opportunities to help them make meaningful and lasting changes to their school health environment. Who can join the Healthy Schools Program? Everyone. And there is no cost to join. STATE REPORT

3 State Specifics: Table 1: Initial Year Participating Schools Students Enrolled , , , , ,393 Total ,551 Table 2. Characteristics of Participating Schools School Level Healthy Schools Participants (n = 116) All Schools in State (n = 2,106) Elementary 66% 60% Middle School 7% 14% High School 20% 16% Other/missing 7% 11% Free or Reduced-Price Lunch 2011 Recipients of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation s National Recognition Award: Bronze: Clarence R. Edwards Middle School East Zone-Early Learning Center John F. Kennedy Elementary School 0-24% 3% 62% 25-49% 9% 16% 50-74% 21% 10% % 68% 12% Primary Ethnicity Caucasian 11% 82% African American 40% 5% Hispanic 46% 12% School Locale City 100% 27% Suburb 0% 60% Rural or small town 0% 12% STATE REPORT

4 Table 3. A sample of Healthy Schools Program criteria and the percentage of participating schools in the state currently meeting the criteria, compared to participating schools across the country. School has an active wellness council/committee that meets at least every other month during the school year. School offers only unflavored low fat milk (1% or lower milk fat) or fat-free flavored milk with no more than 150 calories per 8 oz. Half of all grains at breakfast and half of all grains at lunch must be whole grains. All beverages for sale to students outside of the school meals program during the regular and extended school day meet or exceed the Alliance School Beverage Guidelines. All competitive foods for sale to students outside of the school meals program during the regular and extended school day meet the Alliance Competitive Foods Guidelines. At the high school level, comprehensive health education is taught in a term-long course for at least nine weeks. School staff have opportunities to participate in physical activities AND healthy eating programs. Requires all students at the elementary school level to participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education per week (or 120 minutes of physical education per 2 weeks). Students are engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 50% of physical education class time. School provides opportunities for students to participate in daily physical activity during the school day (excluding recess and physical education). HSP Schools in MA (n = 113) HSP Schools in U.S. (n =4,252) 84% 70% 96% 89% 92% 77% 82% 75% 65% 59% 50% 85% 55% 58% 47% 71% 90% 93% 63% 62% Inventory Content Area Healthy Schools Inventory The Healthy Schools Inventory is an interactive online tool designed to help guide schools through the process of conducting a needs assessment, prioritizing action steps and developing a customized action plan for school health and wellness. All schools are encouraged to complete the Inventory soon after they begin participating in the program and at least once each year thereafter. The Healthy Schools Inventory is based on the Healthy Schools Program Framework and requires responses in seven content areas (i.e., Policy/Systems, School Meals, Competitive Foods and Beverages, Health Education, Physical Education, Student Wellness and Employee Wellness). The scoring rubric designates three levels of recognition for achievement: Bronze, Silver and Gold. The evaluation team uses the Healthy Schools Inventory to assess change in school policies and practices over time. Policy/Systems School Meals Competitive Foods and Beverages Health Education Physical Education School Employee Wellness Student Wellness Total Score 0% 25% 50% 75% 100% Percent of Schools State Nation Figure 1. Percent of schools showing an improvement of at least one item in each content area of the Healthy Schools Inventory for Massachusetts (n = 99 schools) and for all states (n = 2,917 schools). STATE REPORT

5 SUCCESS STORIES: Local Colleges Leverage Their Best Asset to Help Schools As schools across the nation deal with cash-strapped budgets, overworked teachers and parent involvement decreasing in areas hard hit by the recession, they are looking for other community resources that can help them maintain their work to create healthy environments for their students and staff. For many schools, connecting with a local college or university proves to be a mutually beneficial relationship. Several of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation s Healthy Schools Program members serve as great examples of how these connections help them meet their health and wellness goals. Here we share a few of their stories where schools have been able to leverage help from their local colleges on increasing access to physical activity for students, having nursing students available to help with school meal nutrition guidance, and graduate students on hand to provide analysis and support of school wellness councils: GARDNER PILOT ACADEMY BOSTON For over 30 years, children from the Boston Public Schools have been bused to the athletic facilities at Boston University (BU). The program, known as the Tuesday/Thursday Physical Education (PE) Program, offers a unique teaching-learning environment. That the children are brought to a university laboratory setting and that the teachers are undergraduate and graduate students are just two reasons which made the program distinctive. This fall a new model for the program was piloted in order to better meet the needs of BPS students - now BU goes to Gardner Pilot Academy and brings PE to them! For Dana Ulrich, school nurse at Gardner Pilot Academy, the program is the perfect complement to their once-a-week traditional physical education class and their participation in the Playworks program. Playworks is a national non-profit organization that sends trained, full-time coaches to low-income, urban schools. this year we asked if they could come to us. So now twice a week we have five - eight BU students who come use our gym and bring equipment like hula-hoops, cones, scooter boards and parachutes, said Ulrich. The kids run hard and love it! Having programs like this sends a message to the kids that we take movement seriously. We value physical activity and we want them to move and groove! Dr. Sarah Sparrow Benes, Program Coordinator, Physical and Health Education Programs, shared, I would say that the best and most important benefit from the partnership is the opportunity to connect with students. At the end of the experience, BU students always seem surprised at the relationships they are able to build with students even though the program only runs for nine weeks. For many students, this experience confirms their passion for teaching. Another benefit from the partnership is the teaching experience BU students gain. For many, this is their first experience teaching PE and it is eye opening and invaluable for their development as educators - they learn so much from learning by doing. The students grow as teachers so much from the first to last week, it is rewarding to witness as their advisor. Our school actually has a higher average BMI rate than the rest of Boston so I m really glad we are doing this, Ulrich concludes. The data is speaking and telling us we need this intervention. The data is speaking and telling us we need this intervention. - Dana Ulrich, School Nurse Last year we bused the kids- the entire school- over to BU twice a week. We found that it was hard to accommodate some of our special needs students and those that need medication and nursing care. So STATE REPORT

6 Surveying Staff Leads to Optimal Health Education YOUNG ACHIEVERS SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS PILOT SCHOOL Since the Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School first launched their wellness program five years ago, they have continued to search for ways to measure their actions and improve their efforts. They have found creative ways to encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables and to add more physical activity to the school day. They have developed a wellness program that supports staff interests and schedule. And now they are looking at how they can improve the delivery of health education at the school. Understanding the need for structured health education, staff at Young Achievers have incorporated wellness education, both formally and informally, into the curriculum. The wellness council decided that they should document the breadth and depth of wellness education currently being taught. They hope that over the next few years they will continue to build on these efforts and to have a comprehensive framework for health education by The wellness council began the project by conducting a review of national and district health education standards then decided they would survey staff to determine what was actually being taught in the school. The team reached out to Kathy Wilbur, Health Education Manager with the Healthy Schools Program, to help them design their survey tool. The group feels that the data collected showed a number of positive trends when it comes to health education instruction. They found that all staff considered nutrition/healthy food choices as the most important health education topic, followed closely by emotional/mental health, physical fitness/exercise and sex education. Data showed that the majority of staff are integrating health education into various subjects both inside and outside of the classroom. And while most staff (60%) have no formal health education training, all are willing to learn about methods to further their own knowledge. With data in tow, the wellness council felt confident making recommendations to the school leadership. They believe that the new curriculum should focus on the health issues brought forth by staff. They want to convene a wellness think tank with school and district staff to develop an action plan for each grade and subject area that takes into account current instructional capability to make sure that all staff are confident in teaching the new health education curriculum. High School Students Learn Lifelong Skill of Biking MONUMENT HIGH SCHOOL BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS When Boston Bikes reached out to Boston Public Schools Executive Director of Health and Wellness Jill Carter to discuss how they could work together, Carter recognized that this presented an opportunity to bring a great resource to schools looking to increase physical activity opportunities. She decided to invite them to an Alliance for a Healthier Generation s Healthy Schools Program Technical Assistance session, an initiative that supports every public school in Boston, so they could share information about the Boston Bikes program with schools in attendance. Kerry Moniz, teacher and wellness coordinator at Monument High School was excited by what she heard at the meeting and invited the program to come to her school. Boston Bikes set up shop at Monument for a week and provided a classroom set of bikes, helmets and safety gear for students. In addition to providing the gear, they also provided safety lessons and bike riding lessons to a group of Monument students. After a week of training, the students were able to take a field trip to Castle Island, an urban park and historic landmark a few miles away. Moniz said the opportunity was a great way to celebrate health and wellness. The program received great feedback from students and she hopes to start an afterschool program which would give students the opportunity to repair used, donated bikes to take home. Moniz said, It was amazing to see kids active for 45 minutes! And it s a great activity because the kids are having fun! Monument hopes to continue to piece together creative opportunities for students to maintain healthy eating habits and physical activity. STATE REPORT

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