On Tuesday at the Hugh R. O’Donnell Elementary School in East Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino announced three new and innovative ways that city schools will be incorporating more physical activity into their students’ daily routines.
Generous donations from Partners HealthCare and Shaw’s and Star Market will provide support for Wellness Champions in each school, as well as help educate youth about healthy eating. To celebrate the launch of the partnership, the mayor kicked off two challenges between public schools to encourage more daily physical activity among students as part of his Boston Moves for Health initiative.
“Today’s students have a lot on their plates to balance, but their health is our highest priority,” said Menino. “We know that kids who maintain a healthy lifestyle do better in the classroom, so it’s only natural that we encourage good habits in schools. This partnership is a fun and engaging way to promote healthy choices, and I want to thank Partners and Shaw’s for their commitment to keeping our kids in shape.”
During the Physical Education Challenge, from October 15 until November 9, BPS schools will compete for the most steps taken by students during physical education class. The Physical Activity Challenge, from January 15 to February 15, will engage students in a month-long challenge for the most minutes of physical activity during the school day. All of the data collected will be logged into the Boston Moves for Health website, so city youth can contribute to meeting Mayor Menino’s ten million mile challenge. In addition, the winning schools will receive funding for curriculum and athletic equipment.
“Creating opportunities for our students to become more active is a top priority for our schools,” said Dr. Carol Johnson, superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. “Our work doesn’t stop when the reading or math lesson ends. We know that if our students learn healthy habits early, academic achievement will rise.”
Ronnie Sanders, director of community benefits for Partners HealthCare, announced that the organization will donate $170,000 over two years to support 105 Wellness Champions in 100 Boston Public Schools. Wellness Champions lead each school’s effort to increase and promote physical activity throughout the day.
“A top priority of Community Health’s work at Partners is prevention,” said Matt Fishman, vice president for community health at Partners HealthCare. “We strive every day as a health care system to work closely with our community partners to address tough public health challenges like obesity and are excited about this new opportunity to support 105 Wellness Champions in 100 Boston Public Schools who will be able to increase physical activity for more than 40,000 BPS students.”
The O’Donnell School has already made great progress in incorporating more physical education and activity for students throughout the school day. The school has increased physical education to two days a week for grades K-2 and implemented three new programs: SPARK, a standards-based physical education curriculum; FitnessGram, a fitness assessment program; and BOKS, a before-school physical activity program.
Shaw’s and Star Market and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program also announced that they are teaming up with Boston Moves for Health and Boston Public Schools to support kid’s health through the creation of “Workout Wednesday.” Beginning October 10, and throughout the month, Shaw’s will host a Boston Public School class at one of its stores each Wednesday for an outdoor fitness activity, followed by a “healthy eater” store tour with Shaw’s Registered Dietitian and health and nutrition expert Jennifer Shea Rawn. During the tour, the students will receive a Healthy Eaters Free Fruit Card and a goodie bag full of healthy treats.
“Supporting health and wellness initiatives in our communities is important to us at Shaw’s and Star Market,” said Mike Stigers, president of Shaw’s. “The Workout Wednesday program is designed to inspire kids to be active and try healthy foods, and we are excited to be able to join with Mayor Menino and the Boston Public Schools on this program.”