Healthy Schools Support Learning: Pulaski Elementary School
Pulaski Elementary School - Savannah-Chatham County School District, GA
On October 2, 2015, at the 2015 Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation will recognize Pulaski 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.
At Pulaski Elementary School, students and staff are learning healthy habits one step at a time, literally. With the help of school-issued pedometers, students and staff set personal wellness goals and track their steps while they walk or jog. In addition to providing pedometers, the school offers a six-week afterschool tennis program and encourages female students to participate in the Girls on the Run club.
"The students are better educated about making healthy choices. We don't give candy to students as a reward, and recess cannot be taken away as a punishment."
- Barbara Johnson, Physical Education Teacher
Pulaski Elementary also revamped its schedule to ensure that students enjoy at least two sessions of recess and 45 minutes of physical education each week. To boost physical activity among staff, the school offers onsite yoga classes one a week as well.
Every year, students, staff and parents gather at their school for a family fitness night, where they participate in new games and learn about the importance of physical activity. These opportunities for physical activity are coupled with efforts to promote healthy eating; the school aligned all breakfast and lunch meal options with federal nutrition standards. Teachers also use non-food rewards to highlight student accomplishments instead of candy. “The students are more educated on making healthy choices, and our staff members try very hard to model healthy behaviors,” said Barbara Johnson, physical education teacher.