Change, Change, and More Change

Baked antibiotic-free chicken, fresh sautéed kale, and sweet potato salad sounds like a recipe for deliciously good health, which can be a rare occasion for most. It’s also a meal that Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign, hopes to bring to school cafeterias. Davis started HSC in 2002, with a vision for environmental health and wellness in schools. Her plan engages students, parents, teachers, and other faculty members in a various programs guaranteed to spark empowerment and change. Though centered and focused around Chicago public schools, Healthy Schools Campaign is a model for all.  Their approach is holistic and comprehensive: “Wellness is not relegated to an occasional health lesson or physical education class—it is part of math, science, lunch and everything in between. It means providing teachers with professional development related to children’s physical and emotional development, and integrating health into every subject, reward system and classroom management strategy. In this environment, good nutrition, physical activity, basic safety, clean air and water, access to care and education about how to make healthy choices allow students to thrive.”

Change for Good calls upon school infrastructures, as well as district and community leaders to promote nutrition education, healthy eating, and physical activity. The components for making lasting changes include increasing whole foods and minimizing processed foods in school cafeterias. Another element is an increase in Physical Education and strengthening the PE curriculum; not to mention sustainable outdoor schoolyards that encourage outdoor play.

Talented students across the country are sharpening their knives for the next Cooking up Change competition. The competition challenges teams to create a new healthy school lunch for under $1.50 per meal, using a limited number of ingredients and strict nutritional guidelines. Empowerment pours into each dish as students gain their voice in what can be served in school cafeterias.

Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas specifically calls parents to lead the coalition for healthier schools and communities. By bringing responsibility close to home, HSC suggests various avenues for leading by example including forming wellness teams, creating healthy versions of family recipes, and leading fun exercise classes. HSC has provided training to over 200 parents in Chicago. It has also hosted two fantastic webinars in a determined effort to empower parents to live up to the healthy standards they emit to their children. These webinars are available on the HSC website.

Other inspiring programs that Healthy Schools Campaign fosters are Fit to Learn, Green Clean Schools, Health in Mind, Indoor Air Quality in Schools, School Nurse Leadership, Space to Grow, and Through Your Lens. Updates,  news, and tangible resources are available via simple subscription. Connect with this organization and you will soon realize, the sky truly is the limit.