Just before school started, Leigh Ann Bagley took a trip to New York City where she was presented with an award based on efforts made to promote wellness and healthier life choices among students, faculty and staff at Black’s Mill Elementary School.
The school nurse at Black’s Mill, Bagley received the Bronze Award, a national recognition award of the Healthy Schools Program, which is a part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
“It was a trip that I really enjoyed, that provided me with networking opportunities and tools to use to continue promoting health and wellness at our school,” Bagley said.
Bagley received the award based on changes made in the areas of school nutrition, physical education, staff wellness, health education and several others that followed specific guidelines outlined in the program during the 2008-09 school year.
“Our school wellness team, as well as our system wellness team, met in the fall of last year to outline goals and make changes in the areas that needed it in order to be in compliance with the program’s requirements,” Bagley said.
“There were not many changes that needed to be made because our school system has been very proactive in promoting health and wellness in the community, which has been a great support to the school nurses.”
Bagley also said that the Healthy Schools Program has been a “wonderful tool for us to use to implement our health and wellness programs, as well as adhere to the wellness policies of the school system.”
She noted that the school’s nutrition program was an instrumental part in achieving the award.
“Linda Byrd (nutrition director for the school system) provided me with a vast amount of data that dealt with fat, carbohydrate and calorie content of our school’s food and beverages,” she said. “Sarah Pruitt, our physical education teacher, has taken great strides to make sure that all of our students have physical education at least twice a week, sometimes three times a week.”
Bagley added that teachers and nurses alike provided health education lessons in the classroom that cover topics such as hand washing, physical activity, healthy food choices and many others that encourage students to have healthy habits.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton foundation.
According to Bagley, the goal of the alliance is to eliminate childhood obesity and inspire young people to establish healthy living habits and healthy lifestyles by focusing on the home, community, industries and businesses, and schools.
“This program is not a requirement,” Bagley said. “The program offers wellness tools and resources for evaluating the processes that we have in place for health. For example, (the program) has a tool that allows us to evaluate the nutrition facts of snacks served in the school.”
Proud of her school, students, fellow faculty members and system as a whole, Bagley says she plans to “go for the silver” by continuing to promote health and wellness within the school.
“We are going to look at getting the students more involved, making efforts to promote this cause among the school council, as well as incorporate healthier foods and activities at school fundraisers,” she said.