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

Perspectives (May 2017)

Sara Merz, Executive Director

15,000 Wake County kids.

This is what “policy, systems and environmental change” looks like. AHA’s Brains and Bodies Award and Sneakers and Spokes Award have spurred Wake County schools to adopt healthier practices. In just two years of the seven-year program, 15,000 kids have been impacted. Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Healthy School Award Winners.

AHA uses evidence-based, national best practices (key pieces of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s tool) as criteria for the Brains and Bodies Award. School leaders strive to meet more and more of these standards, with many being recognized at higher levels from year to year.

What’s more, some schools have taken it a step further and pursued national recognition. This week, the Alliance announced that two of our AHA award winners were added to the Alliance’s list of America’s Healthiest Schools: Lead Mine Elementary and Swift Creek Elementary.  Just 13 schools in North Carolina are among the 323 winners nationwide. We look forward to their recognition at the Alliance’s Fall National Celebration.

We’re proud of AHA’s work, introducing these standards to schools to they see what they can do, and strive for it. This is a key to how the AHA collaborative works – Introducing leading ideas and practices from across the nation, as well as sharing local examples that are having an impact.  Our partners use this to meet their own missions. And the whole community wins.

With such a broad cross-section of organizational partners in Wake County, we see the ideas and tools we introduce, and that we help partners share with each other, “infiltrating” more and more organizations.

People don’t always “get” what systems change looks like. It means going to existing organizations, who are already doing great work, and who then integrate practices into what they’re already doing. Physical activity, addressed in both of AHA’s school awards, is shown to improve kids’ academic outcomes and reduce disciplinary issues. This helps schools meet their core mission. Congratulations again to our winning schools!


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