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Healthy Schools Support Learning: Phillip M. Stokoe Elementary School

On October 2, 2015, at the 2015 Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation will recognize Stokoe Elementary School as one of 376 schools that have transformed the school environment into a healthier place as part of the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

The Healthy Schools Program, a national, school-based childhood obesity prevention initiative, has worked with more than 30,000 schools to increase quality physical activity, health education, and nutrition.

 The Program is particularly important as aside from home, kids spend most of their time at school, making schools important places to influence kids’ behavior and lifelong health habits. Research shows that healthy students learn better: they perform better on tests, get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class.

“We updated our wellness policy to include language that required fundraisers and other events throughout the district to only serve USDA Smart Snacks-compliant food items to students. This change alone has brought a large cultural shift to both Stokoe and also the district.”

-       Debra Johnson, Principal

Mornings begin at Stokoe Elementary with school-wide announcements, and “daily delight,” a program that focuses on which fresh fruits and vegetables available in the cafeteria that day. Promotion of a healthy lifestyle continues throughout the day with physical activity breaks to keep kids’ energy high and brains engaged. “I’ve never seen students re-energized as they are with our activity breaks,” said Principal Debra Johnson.

During lunch time, the cafeteria staff proximately display whole fruit and unflavored milk options in place of less healthy alternatives. The cafeteria is decorated with student-made art, with the goal of helping students feel ownership of the place they eat every day. A la carte items at Stokoe already met the USDA Smart Snack standards, and the school recently went one step further by creating an approved snack list for parents to use during fundraisers and other events that take place on the school campus.

The healthy lifestyle continues during after school programs, which have newly started to include physical activity programs. Staff are taking it upon themselves to serve as role models for their students, and join students on Tuesdays for a special “Teacher Tuesday” running club. Staff also started their own hiking club, a 5K training team and received a grant for an improved staff lounge with blenders to make healthy smoothies.

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Support for Phillip M. Stokoe Elementary School is generously provided by Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation.