Ketchikan school to get health award

Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JUNEAU - Tongass School of Arts and Sciences in Ketchikan will be recognized today for its efforts to create a culture in which healthy eating and daily physical activity is a norm, according to Megan McIntyre, Marketing and Communications Manager for Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The school is one of 179 in the US to earn a National Recognition Award from the nonprofit group, founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity.

When the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Schools Superintendent suggested that schools participate in the Healthy Schools Program, Tongass Principal Janet Johnson needed little convincing. She said she had just moved to Alaska from a school in Tennessee that had participated in the program and was aware of the benefits of developing an action plan. Johnson had so many enthusiastic parents that wanted to help with the inventory that they were able to finish quickly and start making healthy changes.

One parent suggested that schools move recess to before lunch, which school officials said has bee beneficial, along with changing its birthday celebration policy to encourage healthy snacks. Schools also adopted the Peaceful Playground curriculum and hope to expand implementation of that program next year.

For a school project, students are evaluating the routes they take to school. They plan to present their findings to the city council and to encourage the council to make needed changes in sidewalks and crosswalks to provide safer routes to school.

The school will collect its awards at a ceremony in New York City, where it will receive accolades from representatives of the William J. Clinton Foundation, American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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