McAllen Independent School District is pushing to improve the health of its more than 24,000 students.
Well now these efforts are producing results, as one school in the district is being recognized as one of America’s Healthiest Schools.
This is much more than your average P.E. class. These are exercise habits in the making, at one of the healthiest schools in the nation.
Cindy Gonzalez, School Nurse says, “Oh, I feel very excited about it! I feel wonderful, and I see it when we do heights and weights. We’re seeing the weights coming down. Slowly, but they are coming down. BMI’s are coming down which is wonderful. If we can help these children grow up to be healthy adults, they’re going to be more productive in society.”
Blanca Sanchez Elementary is one of two schools in the state and 14 in the nation to have earned this healthy school honor. The valley is known for its high obesity and heart disease rates, but the district says it’s working hard to improve student health one school at a time.
Rey Sosa, Physical Education Coach says, “The teachers now show up at 7:45 and we take the kids outside for a 15 to 20 minute recess before we even get the day started.”
Studies show students eat more fruits and vegetables when recess is held before lunch. Which also leads to less food waste. But to earn their Gold Level Status, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation requires a healthy lunch menu for students and faculty.
Cindy Gonzalez, School Nurse, “They’re preparing meals a lot better. We noticed one of the things the children liked was the chicken salad. We never had too many children like our chicken salad, but this year they’re very excited. They like the foods. They’ve kind of switched up to where the children are enjoying instead of throwing away.”
McAllen ISD is continuing its efforts to have more schools reach Gold Level Status. But they’re also inviting surrounding districts to join them in the movement.
Mario Reyna, Health and P.E. Coordinator, “We saw the success in our district and we reached out to Mission CISD. And they joined, and we’re so proud of them because all their schools are following the same format we did and all their schools got the Bronze Award in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.”
The city of McAllen joined the district’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles, and together they’ve become the only city in the U.S. to earn healthy living awards. On Saturday the school district will be hosting a ‘Let’s Move’ pep rally along with the city of McAllen at McAllen Memorial Stadium to celebrate their achievements in health and wellness. The celebration will begin at 8:00 AM.