Enrico Tonti Elementary School Wins National Healthy Schools Silver Award

Enrico Tonti Elementary School - Chicago, IL

With nearly 1,100 children and only one small gymnasium, providing students with opportunities for physical activity seems like a daunting task. The staff and administration at Tonti Elementary School willingly embraced the challenge; the school altered the schedule to guarantee thirty minutes of daily physical education for every student, and added three full-time teachers to the department. In addition, Tonti Elementary created an after-school walking club, promoted a Walk to School Day, and hosted a fitness-themed Health Fair. Staff were encouraged to get moving as well with a popular FitBit step challenge. Some staff members even participated in a long-distance walk to demonstrate their commitment to health and fitness. During professional development days, staff prepare healthy meals for one another and participate in Zumba, a boot camp, or a walk around the school grounds. Healthy eating has also become a priority at Tonti Elementary, where students are encouraged to save their leftover fruit for their afternoon treat and parents receive school-approved lists of healthy snacks to send to school. Collectively, these changes have had a positive impact on the school environment. “It is not unusual to see staff members out walking during breaks and at lunchtime. Even though the FitBit challenge is over, teachers still have conversations about how many steps they have,” said Sharon Zigulich, school administrator. She added, “We find that it is amazing how much our students enjoy getting together after school and walking with their friends. It doesn’t take any equipment or special expertise to start a walking club.”