PRYOR, OK —
Pryor's Roosevelt and Lincoln Elementary Schools are receiving national recognition for their wellness initiatives.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major funder for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Healthy Schools Program, publishes an anthology of promising programs every two ears. The next issue will highlight the Healthy Schools Program and some successful schools within that program. Only three sites nationwide were selected for in-person visits from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's writer Paul Jablow.
“This is a great opportunity to be featured in a major national publication and showcase what tremendous success your district had made in school wellness,” said Nicholas Hickman, HSP Regional Director for Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, our nation's kids are in school about 1,100 hours every year. This makes school campuses the ideal place to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles.
The alliance also reports that it has been proven, “the better kids eat and the more active they are the better they perform in the classroom.”
The alliance divides their wellness program into seven categories: policy and systems, healthy cafeterias, healthy vending, health education, employee wellness, physical education and student wellness.
So what are Pryor schools doing different?
“Momentum is picking up in Pryor schools. Our staff is working so hard. I am so proud of them and their efforts,” said Pryor Public School Superintendent Don Raleigh. “Wellness is a part of that, it's all through this leadership paradigm.”
Raleigh said there's a lot of buzz about the school district as it's receiving national recognition left and right.
“This year we have over 70 students signed up who run on Tuesdays after school as part of our Wings program,” said Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Brian Bradshaw. “Last week we joined the Jefferson Wings Team and took about 20 of our fourth- through sixth-grade students to a Wagoner cross country meet. The students had a great time.”
Roosevelt's Wings Team is lead by Mandy Douglas, who was also the vision behind Roosevelt's Pryor Tiger 5K.
“At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, Mandy had a vision of Roosevelt hosting a 5K, so we formed a 5K committee and with a lot of hard work from a lot of people we had our first 5K,” said Bradshaw.
The second-annual Pryor Tiger 5K is scheduled for Nov. 9. Information is available at the Roosevelt front office, on the school’s Facebook page or webpage.
OrganWise Guys is a program for kindergarten through second grade at Roosevelt.
“The goal of this program is for students to take responsibility for their own choices and fight childhood obesity,” said Bradshaw.
Lincoln students first through fifth grade have the OrganWise Guys program.
For the third year in a row, Roosevelt is participating in National Walk to School Day. Roosevelt has well over 100 students who meet at a designated location and walk to school together.
This is also the third year Roosevelt is taking part in NFL Play 60. Last year was Lincoln's first year to participate in Play 60, but they look forward to participating again this year.
“This is where we have our entire school outside participating in various fitness activities. In general half of the school will be walking laps for 30 minutes while the other half is in different stations,” said Bradshaw, who pointed out that the physical education teachers lead this event.
Students in second through sixth grade wear pedometers to track their steps. Roosevelt Elementary has had “basketball and soccer nights” at high school games.
“Our staff has won numerous district-wide health challenges, winning the coveted Golden Shoe Award three times in a row,” said Bradshaw. “Throughout the school year we have different challenges. One time it was to 'Run, Walk, Swim, or Bike a marathon in a month.' This past time it was to eliminate soda intake.”
Bradshaw said it is a great way to encourage the entire school district to own their health.
“Here at Lincoln we have an active Wings running club, a 100 Mile Club and will soon have an archery club,” said Lincoln Elementary School's Assistant Principal Karen Cook.
In fighting childhood obesity, Roosevelt recognizes that it is as much about nutrition as physical activity.
“Our cafeteria has added more fresh fruit and vegetable choices to our menus and continues to work hard at providing an excellent healthy lunch,” said Bradshaw. “Our snack policy ensures that healthy options are brought to school.”
Lincoln has embraced the same nutrition guidelines.
“Our cafeterias are offering more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat foods and watching calorie counts,” said Cook.
The snack policy is district- wide and stipulates only healthy snacks should be sent and served in the classroom, the lone exception being birthdays which are celebrated once a month.
The school even has a vegetable, gourd and flower garden providing hands on learning and nutritional snacks for the students.
Bradshaw said the school has even more plans in the works.
“This year we have a goal to get kids moving up to four days a week before school even starts. This will require teacher, student and parent involvement,” said Bradshaw.
He said they plan to have a Monday morning dance time and a weekly assembly to get students moving.
Cook said Lincoln has new programs still in the planning stages including a fundraiser walkathon.
Bradshaw applauds Laura Holloway, Pryor Public Schools Director of Health and Wellness, who he says has been a district leader in getting the “health and wellness ball rolling.”
Both Lincoln and Roosevelt are grateful to Holloway for her efforts and say she is crucial to their success.
“We have many here at Roosevelt who have led from the beginning. However, it takes everyone on board, seeing the big picture, and leading where they can, I believe, to set us apart. It is truly a Roosevelt Thing,” said Bradshaw.
Both Roosevelt and Lincoln Elementary share in the same goal “to lead students in owning their own health.”
Cook journeyed to Little Rock, Ark., this past week for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Forum. Lincoln was one of the 267 recipients nationwide to receive national recognition.
“Each of the schools honored have reached an important benchmark in improving the learning and working environments of students and staff,” said Cook. “By making significant changes in areas of healthy eating, physical activity, and staff wellness these schools have joined a growing movement of committed individuals and organizations that are working to combat childhood obesity and foster positive change in their communities.”
Lincoln extends the wellness programs to the staff as well as the students.
“Our staff has access to The Rock (gym) that is located at the junior high, at no cost,” said Cook. “There is also a district staff Weight Watchers program.”
Cook said that there were only three schools from Oklahoma honored at the forum and that Lincoln and Roosevelt are among them.
Coming up in November, Lincoln has a “Farm to You” event in the gym.
“We are honored by this recognition,” said Cook. “But really we just want to give our students the tools to be happy, healthy and successful.
Raleigh said the schools are not sure exactly what the magazine coverage will look like, but they anticipate the issue’s release in November.