|Zach Hunt, Joshua Pettigrew and Austin Lindsey get a running start on the Gold Medal Initiative.|
There's a new program that has schools throughout Utah buzzing with excitement.
Known as the Gold Medal School Initiative, the program is encouraging schools to establish policy and environmental supports that give students and staff more opportunities for physical activity and nutritious food choices.
The program encourages the mentality that healthy kids make healthy learners. This year, two Carbon county schools are part of the new program. Both Castle Valley Center and Creekview Elementary have begun the program and each school has kids running more and eating better.
Southeastern Utah Health District public health nurse Jessie Huff said that the Surgeon General's call to action regarding the promotion of healthier youth indicates that intervention should go beyond health and physical education.
"Schools are identified as a key setting for health strategies to prevent and decrease the prevalence of overweight and obesity," read Huff. "Public health approaches in schools should extend beyond health and physical education to include school policy, the school physical and social environment and links between schools and families and communities."
In addition to promoting physical activity and healthy nutrition, the incentive program calls for a tobacco free lifestyle.
The funding partners include the Utah Department of Health, comprised of the following divisions: Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Tobacco Prevention and Control, Maternal and Child Health and the State Office of Education.
In-kind funding is provided through the Asthma prevention and control, diabetes prevention and control, immunizations, local health departments, the American Heart Association, IHC Healthy Communities, Utah School food Service Association, Healthy Utah, Violence and Injury, Action for Healthy Kids, Local school districts and the PTA organizations.
The program began in the fall of 2001 in conjunction with the Winter Olympics. It continues today as a part of "A Healthy You Legacy," which includes schools, work sites, communities and campuses to bring resources and support to schools.
Recruiting takes place in the fall and spring. Principals are sent packets of information in the spring. Presentations are done through the school district offices to encourage principals to sign their schools up with the program. Each participating school is given a mentor and training material.
School coordinators at Castle Valley Center include Jill Haley and Geri Chavez, while Sara Haycock is the mentor, working with Principal Mike Keller.
Jeannie Franklin serves as the coordinator at Creekview Elementary, assisting Sara Haycock, mentor and Joan Atwood, principal.
The program includes 90 minutes of structured physical activity every week, establishing a Gold Medal Mile walking program and setting a goal for student participation. Each school creates a wellness program and the school also makes a policy that food is not to be used as a reward or punishment for students.