Frisco ISD’s Anderson Elementary School has again been recognized for its efforts to improve community health and reduce childhood obesity.
The school is one of only 27 in North Texas to earn the title of Healthy Zone School from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and The Cooper Institute.
It is the highest honor a school can achieve through the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, an initiative to engage teachers, students and parents about fitness and nutrition.
Anderson has been designated a Healthy Zone School - In Training for the last two school years.
“It really takes a whole community working together,” said Anderson physical education teacher Lynell Addis. “I’m so proud of the collaboration and the kids who have been willing to try new foods and new activities even though they were outside of their comfort zone.”
Schools are selected for the program based on an application process and receive funding and volunteer support to fully implement healthy practices on their campuses.
“Physically fit students perform well on standardized tests, have better attendance and encounter fewer disciplinary actions,” said Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of The Cooper Institute. “Through the Healthy Zone Schools program, we have increased the FitnessGram student physical fitness assessment measurements by 31 percent. These numbers clearly demonstrate that we are making a difference toward reducing a child’s long-term risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
Anderson has implemented several programs to encourage physical activity, including a weekly morning fitness plan, JAM (Just a Minute) classroom exercise routines, 100 Mile Running Club and triathlon team.
Staff have also partnered with PTA members to promote community events and school-wide challenges focusing on health and fitness including the Marathon Kids Challenge and Global Children’s Challenge.
In addition, parents and staff are working together to plant a garden outside the school, thanks to a recent grant from Whole Foods.
“The focus is on making kids aware of the need to eat right and stay active,” said Anderson Principal Monica Jackson. “It starts in P.E. but it has grown way beyond that. Our students are really aware and they’re excited to participate. We hope they develop healthy habits to last a lifetime.”
The Frisco ISD Child Nutrition Department added a salad bar at Anderson last school year, and staff members routinely encourage students to sample new fruits and vegetables.
An online nutrition education program called NutriGram has also raised awareness. Third, fourth and fifth graders log on during computer classes and are encouraged to do so at home.
Meanwhile, nurse Rachel Paape has worked to engage faculty and staff, sending weekly health tips and organizing wellness challenges.
“Anderson Elementary has done a tremendous job of teaching students about how to make healthy choices and why those decisions matter,” said Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon. “We know that students perform better and are more confident when they are involved in physical activity. As a District, we will continue to look for ways to encourage students, employees and community members to make health and wellness a top priority.”
- Watch the video above from Frisco ISD-TV on Anderson's efforts last school year.
- For more information about United Way’s Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, visit www.healthyzoneschool.com.