America's Healthiest Schools: Wells Middle School
Wells Middle School was named one of America’s Healthiest Schools by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The school met stringent standards set by the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models. 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.
At Wells Middle School, there are plenty of opportunities for physical activity throughout the day. The school starts the day off with run club, where students come a half an hour before campus opens to run laps toward club goals. In the classroom, teachers use physical activity breaks to keep students engaged and focused all day long. At lunch time, students stay moving with a variety of activities and games offered by the school. And Wells Middle School’s afterschool program offers many options to keep moving after the last bell rings.
Nutrition is just as important as physical activity and the campus has now aligned all of their food and beverage options with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in School. They have also invested in digital menu boards to provide nutrition information about the food in the cafeteria and to promote healthy choices during lunch. Wells has also made drinking water more accessible to staff and students this year by adding two new drinking fountains.
The healthy habits that the school’s changes are fostering are having a huge impact on students and even reaching families at home. “Communicating nutrition and physical activity information with families has been difficult over the years, but once we became part of the Healthy Schools Program, we developed stronger partnerships with community organizations that wanted to help with our wellness efforts in areas of weakness,” said Physical Education Teacher Alanna Kolonics. “This year, we were able to provide parent education courses with topics that included the importance of breakfast, meal planning, understanding food labels, saving money on food and healthy cooking.”