Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

School Challenge Spotlight: Syracuse Elementary School

What happens when you combine Healthy Kids Challenge expertise with a school that is ready to change? Small, simple changes over time culminate into policies and practices that support healthy actions. 

The Healthy Kids Challenge School Challenge is excited to highlight Syracuse Elementary School in Syracuse, KS, for their ongoing forward progress in school wellness practices and policies.  Over the past 5 years, the school district and local community along with Healthy Kids Challenge distance assistance have made strides in meeting the challenge for a healthier school environment:

  • An active school wellness committee implements healthy eating and physical activity events  
  • Administration sees the value of, and provides ongoing support for, healthy change
  • P.E. is maximized for movement 5 days a week and activity is integrated into classrooms
  • Teamwork to develop and implement a district-wide snack policy
  • Combined actions for physical activity and healthy eating exist across the curriculum
  • Staff role model healthy changes and participate in wellness programs
  • Parents and community are engaged in wellness actions through special events, parent-teacher conferences, and newsletters

The school district won student and parent support for the snack policy in an innovative way.  School staff developed snack surveys during a summer break, which were given to every student in K-6th grades the first week of school.  Then at “Back to School Night”, parents participated in a session on healthy eating, reviewed results of the students’ surveys, and sampled healthy snacks.  At the end of the night, a plan was unveiled to students and parents on how to strengthen the school’s nutrition policies.  Through student and family input, and support from HKC staff the school district successfully built awareness, appeal, and ownership for the coming change. 

Taking survey results into consideration, the Board of Education adopted the following as part of the new policy:

  • “Special Lunch”, which used to be a soda and candy bar, was renamed “Snack and Chat” and features a healthy snack each quarter.
  • Reading Goal rewards are no longer candy and pop, but extra recess time or a new book.
  • Classroom Snacks allowable, and chosen by the students, include popcorn, fruit, and pretzels.

“We truly are all learning more about how to be healthy.  We feel that promoting sound health practices, healthy eating and physical activity will create healthier children who will, in turn, be ready to learn,” said Barbara Harris, At-Risk Coordinator for the school.

As Pearl S. Buck said, “Solution is possible where acceptance is ready.”  What solutions are working for your school?