New Partnership Brings Wellness Programs to Schools
Action for Healthy Kids, the National PTA, and ALDI have teamed up to institute health and fitness programs in 25 U.S. schools.
Action for Healthy Kids has enlisted the National PTA to help promote wellness programs in schools.
With the help of the PTA, AFHK is working to include parents and community volunteers in the implementation of its Game On program—a free online guide schools can follow to set up nutrition and fitness programs. This push will focus on 25 schools nationwide thanks to AFHK partner ALDI.
“Parents are a powerful force for change in schools and can help bring together school staff and community partners to create healthier learning environments for students,” AFHK CEO Rob Bisceglie said in a press release. “The complementary missions of AFHK and National PTA, combined with the ALDI commitment to helping all families live healthier lives, makes our collaboration and these grants powerful tools, starting with these 25 deserving schools.”
During the 2016-2017 year, the schools will receive a $1,000 grant from ALDI, enabling them to follow Game On’s steps to assess the schools’ health environments and then build and implement action plans to improve them. The National PTA will encourage parents and other volunteers to participate in the process.
The grants will specifically fund the introduction of nutrition education, school gardens, healthy food tastings, physical education, fitness clubs, and active extracurricular activities, among other programs.
“Ensuring children have access to physical activity and nutritious foods in schools is critical to their success and to set the stage for a healthy lifestyle into adulthood,” National PTA President Laura Bay said in the statement. “PTA leaders, members, and families play an important role in helping schools deliver physical activity programs and implement improved meal offerings. We are pleased to team up with Action for Healthy Kids and ALDI to equip PTAs and schools with resources to engage families and provide a healthier environment for students.”
Bisceglie explained to Associations Now that most schools cannot afford a full-time wellness coordinator, so this role is often covered by a mix of staff and community or parent volunteers. This partnership, coupled with Game On, will help schools cover that gap by engaging parents in the school environment, as well as ensuring they are reinforcing the healthy-living messages in the home.
“Even if you fix the entire school environment so that it’s exactly what you want it to be and exactly what the local school wants it to be, you still have to address things that are impacting kids outside of school,” Bisceglie said.
The partnership is expected to continue beyond helping this year’s 25 schools, and their success stories will set an example for future schools targeted by the programs. In addition, staff and volunteers at schools not targeted can replicate these efforts using the free online programming available. Ultimately, AFHK hopes to develop a new model for school health by connecting in-school programs with their community support systems.
“There’s so much work to be done to make sure parents are constructively incorporated into the school environment around health and wellness issues,” Bisceglie said. “And I see the partnership going in exactly that direction, taking the success that we achieve in these 25 schools … and sharing them with other schools.”