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July 23, 2014

Moving the Needle on the Fight Against Childhood Obesity: 29 Education Leaders Honored for Advancing School Health Movement

Alliance for a Healthier Generation Announces 2014 National School Ambassadors

(NEW YORK) July 23, 2014 – The Alliance for a Healthier Generation honored 29 school leaders from across the country for their leadership in creating healthy school environments for students and staff. The honorees, who include school superintendents, principals, physical education and health teachers, child nutrition directors, district wellness specialists, and parents, were selected as the Alliance’s National School Ambassadors. These individuals comprise an expert team that helps schools improve access to healthy meals, snacks, and beverages and daily physical activity.

Through its Healthy Schools Program, the Alliance supports the work of more than 24,000 schools across the country, with a focus on those that serve low-income and minority populations who are at increased risk for obesity and other diseases, as they strive to make their schools healthier places to learn and work. Each year the Alliance selects a handful of its most effective champions to serve as School Ambassadors—motivating and leading students and staff toward healthier school environments and serving as national spokespeople for the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program.

“We enthusiastically welcome these hardworking individuals as our School Ambassadors,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “The determination and drive they have displayed in their local communities have positioned them on the frontlines of the fight against childhood obesity, and we look forward to supporting them in their new roles as national leaders for children's health.”

The 2014 National School Ambassadors are:

  • Tom Adam, Physical Education Teacher, Spout Springs School of Enrichment (Elementary School), Hall County Schools, Flowery Branch, GA
  • Eliza Jane Adams, Health Education Teacher, Windham Middle School, Windham Raymond School District RSU #14, Windham, ME
  • Krista Allison, Director of Student, Family and Community Support, Canton City School District, Canton, OH
  • Deborah Archer, Project Leader and Nutrition Educator, University of Maryland Extension; Prince George’s County Public Schools Stakeholder, Riverdale, MD
  • Terry Atteberry, Student Wellness Coordinator, Eldon School District, Eldon, MO
  • Joanne S. Avery, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent, Anderson School District Four, Pendleton, SC
  • Christopher Avtges, Director of Food and Nutrition, Vernon Public Schools, Vernon, CT
  • Josephine Carrion, Food Service Specialist, Flagler County Public Schools, Bunnell, FL
  • Jennifer Cedeno, Assistant Superintendent, Elizabeth School District, Elizabeth, NJ
  • Sarah Chaplin, Health Coach, Author, Kids Golf Instructor and Yoga Instructor, Alexandria, VA
  • Heather Deckard, Physical Education Coordinator, Sacramento City Unified School District; President, California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Sacramento, CA
  • Matt Dykstra, Physical Education Teacher, Ezra Millard Elementary School, Millard Public Schools, Omaha, NE
  • Pete Ellis, Physical Education Teacher, West Florence High School, Florence School District 1, Florence, SC
  • Sharon Foster, Physical Education Teacher, James Bowie Elementary School, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, TX
  • Kim Freeland, Physical Education Teacher, Garden City High School, Garden City Public Schools, Garden City, KS
  • Casey Hinds, Parent, Jane Addams Middle School, Seattle, WA
  • Laura Holloway, Director of Health and Wellness, Pryor Public Schools, Pryor Creek, OK
  • Stephanie Kohout, Physical Education Teacher, Springhill Lake Elementary School, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Greenbelt, MD
  • Mickey Komins, Principal, Anne Frank Elementary School, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • Mamie Lewis, HPELW (Health, Physical Education, Lifetime Wellness) Specialist, Brookmeade Elementary School, Shelby County Schools, Memphis, TN
  • Jean McTavish, Principal, Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, New York City Public Schools, New York, NY
  • Susan Rhine,BSN,RN, School Nurse and Coordinated School Health Program Administrator, Edward Titche Elementary School, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, TX
  • Jessica Shelly, Food Service Director, Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati, OH
  • Allison Slade, Founder and Executive Director, Namaste Charter School, Chicago, IL
  • Jeff Smith, Ed.D., Superintendent, Balsz School District, Phoenix, AZ
  • Patricia Smith, Ph.D., Physical Education Teacher, Idlewild Elementary School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, NC
  • Angela Stark, Special Education Teacher, Southern Middle School, Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, KY
  • Kevin Treur, Physical Education Teacher, Pierson Elementary School, Volusia County Schools, Pierson, FL
  • Susan Wood, Child Nutrition Director (retired), Hoover City Schools, Hoover, AL

Childhood obesity has nearly tripled in children and adolescents in the past 30 years, with significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence. The School Ambassadors are leading sustainable change in their school communities, the majority of which serve minority populations and students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches in the National School Lunch Program.

The Alliance launched the Healthy Schools Program in 2006 with 231 schools in 13 states. Today, the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program helps to build healthier school environments for 14 million students in 24,000 schools in all 50 states by improving physical education, health education, and wellness policies and programs. Of the schools that receive assistance from the Alliance’s field staff, 80 percent have made measurable progress towards creating a healthier school environment, 85 percent meet or exceed the Alliance’s school beverage guidelines, and the majority dedicate at least 20 percent of their afterschool program time to physical activity. The Alliance also established nutrition standards and voluntary agreements with food and beverage companies, which guided the development and adoption of strong federal nutrition standards for school meals, beverages, and snacks.


About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. The Alliance works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals and families to build healthier environments for millions of children. To learn more and join the movement, visit www.HealthierGeneration.org.

Media Contact:

Laura O’Connor
Alliance for a Healthier Generation