News

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2008

ISBE & DHS honor schools, students and communities that won statewide healthy lifestyles challenge


32 elementary and middle schools took the Move & Crunch Challenge for Principals which stresses educating the entire student – mind and body

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) today honored three elementary schools for winning the state’s first Move & Crunch Challenge for Principals. In addition, 29 elementary and middle schools from across the state were also recognized for participating in the healthy lifestyles challenge during the month of March. The new initiative was aimed at helping schools create a healthy environment for students by encouraging principals and school communities statewide to ‘Move’ and ‘Crunch’ toward a healthier lifestyle.

“It’s encouraging to see all of the different and innovative things schools did to promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating – from student surveys on favored fruits and vegetables to test tasting opportunities,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “I applaud the efforts of each school’s principal for being a role model leading the way to a healthier lifestyle for our students.”

This year’s Challenge winners are Woodrow Wilson School in East Peoria; Dieterich Elementary School in Dieterich; and Prairie Hill School in Cary. Each school posted the top score in the three enrollment categories of up to 250 students; 251 – 500 students; and 501 students or more. Each winning school received an award certificate and an $800 grant for health education school materials. In addition, all participating schools received a certificate of recognition and were recently recognized at the Illinois School Wellness from A to Z conference held in Decatur last month.

The innovative new program promoted student health by having elementary school principals take the lead and be wellness role models. Principals from elementary schools that participated in the Move & Crunch Challenge logged the number of days they met physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations. The goal was to have principals get school staff, students and parents involved in this friendly competition for at least one week in March. Though not eligible to compete for the education grant, principals from middle schools and high schools in the state were also encouraged to participate. One middle school, Veteran’s Memorial Middle School in Blue Island, did participate in the challenge.

"I’m extremely pleased at the tremendous success of this program and the amount of time and effort put in by the school principals to promote a healthy lifestyle,” said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.  “I am excited for the winners and I encourage all parents, teachers and schools to continue to support this program because it is vital to the long-term health of our children.”

While participating, many of the schools found unique ways to earn challenge points. Families participated in physical education classes; students and staff heard health messages over the intercom; one school implemented an “All Staff Pedometer” Challenge. Other health activities included student walks with the principal; exercise breaks inside the classroom; and an “Eat Your Alphabet” contest with students encouraged to sample new fruits and vegetables.

“I think one of the reasons the Challenge was so appealing to schools, is that it engaged the entire school community – parent, school staff and administrators – in modeling healthy lifestyle choices for students,” said Deb Rees, coordinator for the Illinois Nutrition Education and Training Program (Illinois NET). “I was thrilled to see so many schools demonstrate their commitment to student wellness.”

Scoring was based on the percentage of students, parents and school staff completing five days of the Challenge, as well as the number of days the principal met daily Challenge recommendations. Also, bonus points were awarded to schools that planned additional activities to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity to students during the month of March.

The Illinois NET Program, in partnership with ISBE, DHS and the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance developed the Move & Crunch Challenge program. All participating elementary schools had to be a federal Team Nutrition School to compete. Team Nutrition is an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity. The challenge was funded through a USDA Team Nutrition grant.

A full list of the 32 schools that participated in the Challenge are:

More information about becoming a Team Nutrition School is available online at http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/team.html.