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9 Strategies America's Healthiest Schools Practice

They Put Money on the Line
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Kids at Glenwood School in Glendale Heights, IL, get paid with their school's Gatorbucks whenever they hit 10,000 steps a day (both the students and the staff wear pedometers). At the end of the week, they can redeem the play money at their school store.

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They Nix Temptations
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You'll find only water in the teachers' lounge vending machines at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in McAllen, TX. That's by design. "Teaching is stressful," says principal Kristine Garza. "If you have the chance to grab something unhealthy, you probably will."

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They Make Every Minute Count
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Increasing recess time from  to  minutes resulted in a big payoff in the classroom at Marcell Elementary in Mission, TX. Kids were better able to focus, and grades shot up, says principal Marissa Saenz. And every day around  p.m., the kids and teachers at Robert C. Hatch High School in Uniontown, AL, put down their pencils for a "fit break." They take at least  minutes to move, whether that's walking outside or hitting the playground. No one stays in his or her seat; the fit break is mandatory.

Calm down quickly:This exercise works for kids and adults: Inhale slowly for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale slowly for four counts. Wait four counts, then repeat.

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They Hold (Staff) Challenges
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A little competition got teachers and administrators at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School fired up. In addition to sharing heart-boosting tips and recipes in the teachers' lounge, staff members sported pedometers for a two-month health challenge. They tried to outwalk one another and see who could drop the most weight. The school secretary, Blanca Escobedo, took first prize with a weight loss of 40 pounds.

Walk more motivator:Organize a group of friends, colleagues, and neighbors to compete (and stay accountable) through the Stridekick app (free!). 

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They Spell It Out
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Students at Marcell Elementary crafted posters with eat-healthy reminders and hung them in the cafeteria to encourage making better choices. Ask your child's art teacher if she could dedicate a class to creating wellness-inspired posters, then help display them.

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They Train Healthy Eaters
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When the teachers at Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School in New York City first made banana, spinach, and strawberry smoothies for students, the kids weren't thrilled. But they tried them—and liked them! As their palates warmed up to the flavors, students even started adding more vegetables (like beets, spring greens, and broccoli) to the mix. The adventurous eating worked: Several of the kids who were prediabetic and obese are now at a normal weight with regulated blood sugar.

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They Take Sweets Out of Celebrations
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Cakes and cookies are often the centerpiece of parties, but not at William B. Travis Elementary School in Corpus Christi, TX, where parents have traded birthday cupcakes for fruit cups. The school also no longer rewards kids with candy for good attendance or stellar grades. Instead, it marks the moment by giving kids bubble-blowing materials or an extra 20 minutes of recess.

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They Dig in the Dirt
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Many of the schools that won high honors created gardens where students could learn how to cultivate produce. (Research shows that kids are more likely to eat fruits and veggies when they grow them themselves.) After children helped harvest cabbage and carrots at Colonial Hills Elementary School in San Antonio, the cafeteria used the crop to make coleslaw for lunch. Consider donating potted herbs like basil and mint to your child's classroom so students can learn how to care for the plants.

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They Encouraged Kids to Show Up
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Alanna Kolonics, the physical education teacher at Wells Middle School in Riverside, CA, knows the biggest fitness roadblock is often just finding the motivation to get going. So she started a running group at Wells that focuses on encouraging small steps to success. Some mornings, kids arrive with zero drive. "I remind them that showing up is the hard part," she says. Instead of pushing kids to run, she tells them to walk a lap around the track instead. Once they get going, they almost always pick up their pace.






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Date: 19.12.2018, 02:11 / Views: 53171