Moving through the Healthy Schools Program’s 6-step process required us to get everyone at our school on board to create a healthy environment for our staff and students. When it came time for Eldon Middle School's wellness team to implement our Action Plan to create a healthier school, we really needed that buy-in from our teachers, staff, administrators, parents and students. Here’s how we did it:
Over the past several months, we had met with our wellness committee, assessed our school and made an action plan through the Healthy Schools Program website. Finally, it was time to “put your money where your mouth is” as they say. We knew what we needed to do and how to do it; now we needed to make the Action Plan happen!
In order to make changes in our lunchroom, such as creating new salad bars, we had to include our lunch staff and food service director in our conversations and get them excited about offering more fresh fruits and vegetables. Initially this was a challenge: some people view change as a sign that they have done something wrong. We had to assure our food service staff that they are an important part of this team and that they do amazing things! Adding salad bars was just one more exciting way to bring our students healthy choices at school. And today, our food service staff are great asset to our wellness team.
We also ran into some pushback when we began rolling out healthier choices for teachers. We started by providing healthy snacks in the teachers’ lounge, such as fruit bowls and unsweetened tea instead of vending machine snacks and donuts. We offered healthier meals at back to school breakfasts and parent teacher conferences. We provided monthly health tips and incentives to encourage staff to get the exercise they need to be healthy. These changes took some adjustment time, but soon the healthier options became very popular among staff and provided an opportunity for our teachers to lead by example.
You can never give up when you face a challenge. Think about the end goal that is driving you; in this case it’s our students’ health. If the goal is important enough, challenges are just speedbumps along the way. With a supportive team, you can achieve your goals together and celebrate at the finish line. The effort is truly worth it for our next generation!
As you get started, don't forget to monitor progress on your Action Plan and consult the Resource Database if you hit a road block. Remember, you can always reach out to the Healthy Schools Program support staff at 888-KID-HLTH with any questions.