15 Wake Schools & One Student Win AHA Healthy Schools Awards
AHA’s 2016 Healthy Schools Award Winners: Brains and Bodies Award, Sneakers and Spokes Award, Student Wellness Advocate and Staff Wellness Champion
On April 27, AHA announced the 2016 Brains and Bodies Award and Sneakers and Spokes Award recipients – individual Wake County schools going above and beyond, to support healthy environments and behaviors at school for students and staff. Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) School Board Chair Tom Benton and Supt. James Merrill presented the awards and celebrated the winning schools’ accomplishments. The AHA Brains and Bodies Award and the Sneakers and Spokes Award are the only awards in Wake County that recognize healthy schools.
Eight schools earned the Brains and Bodies Award, and 10 earned the Sneakers and Spokes Award, with two schools winning both awards. Five schools won the Brains and Bodies Award for overall wellness at the Gold level designation:
Enloe High School sophomore Arya Pontula and Principal Scott Lyons with Supt. Merrill, School Board Chair Tom Benton and AHA Director Sara Merz
- Brentwood Elementary in Raleigh,
- Davis Drive Elementary in Cary
- Penny Rd. Elementary in Cary
- Sanford Creek Elementary in Rolesville
- Wendell Elementary in Wendell
Three schools won at the Bronze level:
- Hunter Elementary in Raleigh
- Laurel Park Elementary in Cary
- Powell Elementary in Raleigh
Sneakers and Spokes Awards specifically recognize active transportation—walking and biking to (or at) school. Winners are:
- Davis Drive Elementary
Jacob McCarthy, a student on the Centennial Campus Middle School Wellness Committee, accepted his school’s Staff Wellness Champion Award.
- Farmington Woods Elementary
- Forestville Rd. Elementary
- Highcroft Drive Elementary
- Hunter Elementary
- Laurel Park Elementary
- Lead Mine Elementary
- Martin Middle School
- Rolesville Elementary and
- Sanford Creek Elementary.
Student and Staff Wellness Awards
Student Arya Pontula, a sophomore at Enloe High School in Raleigh, received AHA’s Student Wellness Advocate Award in recognition of her interest in and dedication to school wellness.
AHA awarded a Staff Wellness Champion Award to Centennial Middle School for its excellence in health promotion for staff.
“Brains and Bodies Award winners use evidence-based practices and policies to improve health,” said AHA Director Sara Merz. “Physically active students who eat healthy foods perform better academically and have fewer disciplinary issues, plus these habits will pay off with better health the rest of their lives.”
Sanford Creek Elementary PE Teacher Leigh Anne Sandy led the group in a Go Noodle activity for a Brain Break.
“More than 43 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 in Wake County are overweight, and we want all kids to feel well and be healthy,” Merz continued. “Our Brains and Bodies Award winners are making a real difference for the young residents of Wake County by changing practices and policies.”
AHA created the Brains and Bodies Award program six years ago to celebrate and recognize schools that are creating a sustainable culture of school wellness. The application process is also intended to be educational, providing schools with information and a wide array of resources and best practices to model. AHA’s award is based on three modules of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation “Healthy Schools Program” assessment, which uses nationally recognized, evidence-based criteria.
AHA’s Sneakers and Spokes Award (formerly Wellness Star), now in its third year, highlights active transportation to school because children need 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Students walking or biking to school are benefiting from regular exercise and arriving at school alert and ready to learn.
“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,” Merrill said.
Benton agreed. “It’s wonderful to be able to recognize schools across our system that are making these strides. I hope that schools across the county will be inspired,” Benton said.
Resources are online at www.AdvocatesForHealthInAction.org and www.healthiergeneration.org so that schools can adapt ideas and programs that fit their school.