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What a year it has been. In the wake of a global pandemic, and facing increased systemic inequities, Healthier Generation’s decades-long mission increased in relevance with unparalleled demand from our partner schools, communities, and families to support the physical, mental, and social-emotional needs of our nation. Despite these ongoing challenges, Healthier Generation, alongside many of you, made remarkable strides in advancing whole child health.
This year’s annual impact report showcases our progress and points of pride – while highlighting how we connected with our stakeholders to create meaningful experiences, and a lasting impact in children’s health. This is “The Healthier Generation Experience.” Throughout this report, I hope you enjoy reading, watching, and listening to how this experience played out with our partners – wherever children live, learn, and play.
There were countless Healthier Generation experiences to celebrate over the past year. Namely, we announced our most recent list of America’s Healthiest Schools. Over 400 schools across the country received an award for their commitment to bolstering the physical, mental, and social-emotional health of students, educators, and families. We expanded our award program to honor schools that implemented best practices in up to nine topic areas ranging from improving nutrition and food access to implementing tobacco/vape-free campuses. The evolution of America’s Healthiest Schools is a perfect example of how our approach continues to be one that meets communities where they are, offered with flexibility and delivered with care.
The IDEA Public Schools Austin district is home to two of eleven All-Star schools recognized nationwide on the 2022 list of America’s Healthiest Schools -- IDEA Pflugerville Academy and IDEA Pflugerville College Preparatory. At these award-winning schools, safety and strong policies and programs lay a foundation for whole child well-being and academic success.
Maribel Pulido Perez, senior health aide for IDEA Pflugerville, says, “Creating an environment that supports the overall health of students and staff led me to work more closely with my Healthy Kids Here Committee to promote the protection of all students and educate staff and students on violence prevention, exposure to weapons, harassment, and the sale or use of illegal substances in our facilities. Healthier Generation has given me the guidance and tools needed to implement strong policies and programs to create a healthy school environment. We can use the resources available to us in our community outreach and to empower us to help our children develop healthy habits for life with the support of our teachers, parents, and the community.”
I am proud to be part of this beautiful program that prepares the future generation on the road to success… to guide them and provide them with the necessary forms and resources to promote healthy lifestyles.
Since adopting The Walking Classroom program in her class at Balboa Elementary, fourth-grade teacher Adriana Smith has seen a boost in her students’ learning as well as their excitement about school. Her successful implementation of the program helped the Glendale, California school earn recognition as one of America's Healthiest Schools.
Since January 2018, when Smith was chosen to pilot the program for Glendale Unified School District with support from a grant from Glendale Educational Foundation, Balboa’s fourth-grade students have enjoyed walking, listening, and learning with the program that uses an evidence-based approach to helping students learn while integrating physical activity opportunities throughout the school day.
Smith uses The Walking Classroom with her fourth graders first thing in the morning. Smith’s students take their WalkKits on a brisk 20-minute morning walk around the school’s track while listening to podcasts covering core curricular areas --language arts, social studies, and science.
The Walking Classroom’s lessons support Balboa’s focus on keeping students mentally and physically healthy, leading to reduced absenteeism and lateness. Smith said her students are eager to be outside with their classmates: “Even though we never leave campus during the lessons, one of my students said it was like the the best field trip ever.”
After seeing Smith’s success with her fourth-grade students, Balboa Elementary Principal Dr. Sona Arakelyan purchased an additional class set of WalkKits so that more students at Balboa can benefit from the program.
The Walking Classroom has had a very positive and profound effect on our students and their learning. Students are very engaged in listening to interesting podcasts on various standard-based topics.
When goals align, collaborations can have profound impacts for good. In 2022, Healthier Generation and Del Monte Foods connected over a shared mission to support schools and families with a focus on nutrition access and affordability.
Bibie Wu, chief marketing officer of Del Monte Foods, describes the goal that drives this alliance: “Access to better food choices and cultivating equitable, healthy communities is a priority for Del Monte Foods. While making our commitment to nourishing communities, we saw a pathway to partner with a like-minded organization, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, to make an even larger impact. Together, our goal is to increase nutrition access and advance health equity by reaching 7.5 million students and their families through our ‘Nourishing Families by Nourishing Schools’ program.
With support from Del Monte Foods, Healthier Generation has created a hub of recipes and resources to help families connect over shared meals. “Del Monte Foods’ mission is to grow a healthier and more hopeful tomorrow by making nutritious foods more accessible to all,” Ms. Wu says. “We feel confident that by bringing our missions together, we will fulfill our commitment to nourish the physical, mental, and social well-being of youth and communities across the U.S.”
We feel confident that by bringing our missions together, we will fulfill our commitment to nourish the physical, mental, and social well-being of youth and communities across the U.S.
We extend our sincere gratitude to the many individuals and organizations across the country who have enabled us to work so that communities across the country have the support they need to thrive.
To our founders, donors, and philanthropic partners, including MacKenzie Scott, the CVS Health Foundation, Harmony SEL at National University, Kaiser Permanente, and Kohl’s: You made it possible to continue our mission to support the health of the whole child.
To our school communities, including students, families, teachers, and administrators: Thank you for working by our side as we build a healthier present and future for our children.
To those yet to experience Healthier Generation, including America’s Healthiest Schools 2023 and new health equity champions and partners: Thank you for inspiring us to come to work every day with a single goal in mind – ensuring that every mind, every body, every young person is healthy and ready to succeed.
This year, MacKenzie Scott donated $15 million in support of Healthier Generation’s efforts to advance equitable whole child health. This gift catalyzes Healthier Generation’s next era, rooted in a bold strategic framework that builds upon our commitment to EDI while accelerating and deepening our multifaceted, evidence-based initiatives. We are honored to be a recipient of this donation and the trust that Ms. Scott has in Healthier Generation’s efforts. With this support, Healthier Generation is in position to further stimulate systems change and reach its impact goal -- every mind, every body, and every young person, healthy and ready to succeed.
Our founders and these dedicated supporters make possible our goal of advancing equitable, whole child health in communities across the nation.
As for the future of Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I think it speaks for itself. Because of the work you all are doing, people [like MacKenzie Scott] are paying attention. Keep doing what you’re doing.
I trained in pediatrics and public health doing work in the opioid space, so children’s health and youth have always been really central to me; my decision to get involved with Healthier Generation aligned with my personal mission. It’s been such a privilege to get to brainstorm and be a sounding board with the team.
Not everyone is afforded the same access to live healthy lives, so the work we do [at Healthier Generation] is pivotal to ensuring that those opportunities exist. As a father, having the ability to provide for my family drives me even more to make sure other families and children can have similar opportunities along their own journeys.
In order to help our young people obtain optimal health, we must engage them as whole children, recognizing the many different issues and barriers that they face each day. Healthier Generation is here to help our school and community partners address shifting barriers to health as effectively, as robustly, and as permanently as possible. I am excited about working with such an amazing team of dedicated professionals at Healthier Generation.
Activating champions and partners to deliver the promise of a healthier generation is extremely rewarding work. At Healthier Generation, I know am helping create lasting impact for young people through our collective actions and efforts.