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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Kudos to 2014 AHA Healthy Schools!

2014 AHA Brains and Bodies Winners

2014 AHA Brains and Bodies Winners

Congratulations to the 2014 Brains and Bodies Award recipients and Wellness Star recipients – individual Wake County schools going above and beyond, to support healthy behaviors at school for both students and staff! Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) School Board Chair Christine Kushner was invited to present the awards.

Ten schools earned the Brains and Bodies Award, and six earned the Wellness Star, with three schools winning both awards.

2014 Brains and Bodies Award Winners:


  • Underwood Elementary


  • Brier Creek Elementary

    2014 AHA Wellness Star Winners

    2014 AHA Wellness Star Winners

  • Davis Drive Elementary
  • Highcroft Elementary
  • Hunter Elementary
  • Joyner Elementary


  • Brentwood Elementary
  • Lead Mine Elementary
  • Martin Middle School
  • Oak Grove Elementary

2014 Wellness Star Winners

  • Davis Drive Elementary
  • Hunter Elementary
  • Laurel Park Elementary
  • Martin Middle School
  • Olive Chapel Elementary
  • Wake Forest Elementary

The Wellness Star award is new this year, and recognizes efforts to support walking and biking to school.

All award winners earned a banner to display at their school. “We are so impressed with the work of all these schools to make wellness and health a priority,” Sara Merz, director of AHA. “Physically active students who eat healthy foods perform better academically, have fewer disciplinary issues, and are starting off on the right foot.”

“More than 43 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 in Wake County are overweight or obese,” Merz continued. “Our Brains and Bodies Award winners are making a real difference in their schools by changing the way they do their work, creating opportunities for students to be active, and implementing the WCPSS Wellness Policy and focusing on employee and student wellness.”

Brains and Bodies Award Highlights

AHA created the Brains and Bodies Award program four years ago to celebrate and recognize schools making an effort to incorporate wellness into the culture of the school day. The application process is also intended to be educational, providing schools with information and a wide array of resources and best practices to model.  One of the student wellness criteria is that schools provide opportunities for students to participate in daily physical activity during the school day, excluding recess and physical education.

Lead Mine Elementary, for example, includes physical activity in its morning announcements. The 5th grade Leopard Live crew leads fellow students in a few minutes of fun physical activity.

Wellness Star Highlights

The new Wellness Star places special emphasis on active transportation to school because children need 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Students who are walking or biking to school are gaining the benefit of regular exercise and arriving at school alert and ready to learn.

Some schools have developed at school walking programs, such as Davis Drive Elementary, where every class, including the teacher, is walking, jogging or running at recess one day a week. Davis Drive P.E. Teacher Karen Mickle noted a marked decrease in students’ mile times. Other schools, such as some magnet schools, have begun at school walking clubs that all students may participate in when they arrive at school in the morning.

“I congratulate the winning schools and applaud their outstanding efforts to emphasize healthy habits and to create a healthier school environment for students and staff alike,” said Kushner.

“We hope that all schools across Wake County will be inspired by what these award-winning schools are doing, and often at little or no expense, consider things that make a big difference in student health, and be in the running to be recognized in next year’s awards,” Merz said.

Information about the 2014-2015 AHA awards program will be available in fall 2014.

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