As parents, we all want the same thing for our children — to give them every opportunity to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. That starts the day they’re born and continues throughout their lives, including when they’re in school.

A growing concern

When schools serve sugary drinks and fried foods loaded with fat and excess sodium, kids aren’t getting the healthy meals their bodies and brains need to thrive. Studies show that healthy kids perform better academically, have better attendance records, behave better in class — and are happier. Exactly what we want for our kids.

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, I attended a public elementary school where Physical Education (P.E.) was a daily requirement. Today less than ten percent of elementary and middle schools in America offer daily P.E. classes, making it hard for kids to get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity that doctors recommend. When 1 in 3 children in America is overweight and at greater risk for diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, we have to ask ourselves — what can we do better?    

A smart solution

“Studies show that healthy kids perform better academically, have better attendance records, behave better in class — and are happier.”

That’s why I’m proud to be part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Founded in 2005 by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, the Alliance works with schools to serve nutritious meals and snacks, get kids moving throughout the day and empower communities to support healthy choices for kids and families alike. We now have reached more than 35,000 schools across the country through our Alliance network.

This year, the Alliance named 323 schools to the 2017 list of America’s Healthiest Schools. These award-winning schools are creating healthy environments for their students to learn and grow, from experimenting with fruit and vegetable smoothies at Edward R. Reynolds West Side High in New York City; to starting a running club at Wells Middle School in Riverside, California; to trading fruit cups for cupcakes during celebrations at William B. Travis Elementary in Corpus Christi, Texas.

A personal connection

Now that I have my own kids, this work has taken on an even more personal meaning. I want every child to have easy access to healthy meals and plenty of time to run and play. Every child, no matter where he or she is born, deserves the opportunity to be healthy, productive — and happy. 

That means ensuring every child gets to go to a healthy school. More than 300 schools across the country are setting the standard, and you can join them by visiting HealthiestSchools.org to sign the pledge to show your support. We all have an important role to play in creating a country where the healthy choice is the easy choice — for all kids in every community. It’s what we would want for our own children — it’s what we should expect for every child, everywhere.