At New York City’s West Side High School, Principal Jean McTavish leads morning spin classes to get her students energized for the day, and at Tennessee’s Beech Bluff Elementary School, every student receives a healthy breakfast in the classroom to improve concentration.

Joining together

Schools play a critical role in shaping our children’s futures, including their health. Nationwide, 1 in 3 kids is overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious health problems. Aside from home, kids spend most of their time at school, making schools an important first line of defense.

A growing body of research demonstrates that healthy kids learn better—and the research is backed up by staff at the 30,000 schools enrolled in our Healthy Schools Program who typically report that their students are experiencing improved test scores, better behavior and increased attendance.

"Children learn from watching those around them. Invaluable opportunities exist to get students moving more before and after school."

Each year, we see an increasing number of schools meeting the Program’s rigorous standards to create and sustain healthy environments, earning the Alliance’s National Healthy Schools Award. This fall at our Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, ten schools will be recognized at the Gold level, our highest honor.

These Gold schools have much in common in their approach to building healthy learning environments for students:

Superlative schools

Building a healthier school can call for new schedules, contracts, equipment or resources and a strong leader can make all the difference. The passion for health exhibited daily by Ida Escobedo, principal at Texas's Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School, has motivated food service staff, wellness council members, community partners and parents to join her in building a healthier school.

Children learn from watching those around them. At Georgia’s Spout Springs School of Enrichment, faculty and staff demonstrate how to choose healthy foods and hold a pep rally to get students excited for the school’s annual fundraiser, the Seminole Sprint.

Invaluable opportunities exist to get students moving more before and after school. Florida’s De Soto Trail Elementary School revised its wellness policy to require students to arrive 10 minutes before the bell to walk or jog outside.  

These ten trailblazing schools are leading the way to a healthier school day, but more schools need to follow their example. Here’s what you can do to help make sure more children are learning better and flourishing:

  • Serve on your child’s school or district wellness council.

  • Join your child’s school’s Healthy Schools Program team or click here to enroll your school.

  • Maintain the healthy habits your child is learning at school in your home.