Ava Elementary School Named In 2018 List of America’s Healthiest Schools

Ann Leonard, school wellness coordinator, above far left, brought teachers and staff members together last week in recognition of their contribution and support of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities initiative. Ava Elementary is one of 19 schools in Missouri that has been selected to receive a Silver level designation for 2018.

Ava Elementary to be honored with national award for promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

AVA, Mo. Sept. 18, 2018 – Ava Elementary School  been named to the 2018 list of America’s Healthiest Schools by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, receiving national recognition for their commitment to students’ health and well-being. As a part of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities (HSHC) initiative, the Ava R-I School District has worked to create a healthier future for Ava children. These changes were made possible by grant funding from Missouri Foundation for Health and the hard work of school leadership, staff, and students.

A total of 461 schools nationwide were selected based on a rigorous set of criteria—from availability of nutritious foods to access to quality physical education opportunities—as part of Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program. Ava Elementary is among 19 schools in Missouri to receive this recognition.  Ava Elementary earned the Bronze level last year, but moved up to the Silver level this year.  

A total of 461 schools were recognized as America’s Healthiest Schools, 355 Bronze Schools, 93 Silver Schools, and 13 Gold level. 

“I am so proud that Ava Elementary is one of 93 schools at the Silver Level to be recognized out of the 42,000 schools that the Alliance for a Healthier Generation works with, stated Ann Leonard, Ava Schools Wellness Coordinator.  

The school is excited to be able to add so many programs and activities to the school day.  School days begin with a Morning Walking Program where all students can walk for 15 minutes before school starts.  Students have Universal Breakfast and Breakfast in the Classroom program where all students have the opportunity to eat breakfast every morning at no cost.  

Elementary teachers add physical activity in the classroom through programs like Go Noodle, yoga, and healthy laps during mid-morning for a brain boost.  Several classrooms have added active seating such as standing tables, stability ball chairs and hokki stools as an alternative to traditional desks and chairs. 

The school has programs such as Walk to School Days in the Fall and Spring, Family Fun Runs, Summer School Triathlon class, and Marathon Kids running program.  Teachers have added active celebrations such as monthly birthday celebrations in the gym, and Gym Jams & Dance parties to celebrate reading and math achievements.  

The school has a written policy to allow only snacks that meet the Smart Snacks guidelines at during holiday parties and birthday celebrations.  Water filling stations have been added in each hall of the elementary and water bottles provided for each student.  Much needed equipment has been purchased for the physical education department and playgrounds, such as a rock wall in the elementary gym.  

“Our entire community —parents, teachers, students, and staff — has united around the importance of creating a healthy school,” said Ann Leonard, school wellness coordinator. “We’re honored to receive this recognition from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and remain committed to advancing our school health improvement efforts even further over the coming years.”

“To see that all 19 schools named America’s Healthiest Schools are part of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities initiative really demonstrates the power of school districts and community leaders working together to build a healthier future. I’m so proud of our schools and look forward to seeing more healthy changes in the years to come,” said Deidre Griffith, Program Director, Missouri Foundation for Health. 

All of America’s Healthiest Schools have earned National Healthy Schools Awards, a prestigious achievement that celebrates schools that meet or exceed expert-recommended standards set by Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program for serving healthy meals and snacks, getting students moving more throughout the day, offering high-quality health and physical education and empowering school leaders to be healthy role models.

“The Healthy Schools Programs has served over 42,000 schools. Each one recognizes the academic, social and behavioral benefits of prioritizing student health,” said Brian Weaver, Chief Program Officer at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “We’re proud to recognize the exceptional efforts of Ava Elementary for serving as a best-in-class example of what it means to create healthier environments for both students and staff.”

To view the complete list of America’s Healthiest Schools, visit HealthiestSchools.org.