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Innovative school-based wellness programs recognized

Commitment to a healthy school community earned Adams Elementary (Corvallis School District), Milwaukie High School (North Clackamas School District) and St. Paul Elementary (St. Paul School District) the 2017 Oregon School Wellness Awards.

“There is clear data that student health and student learning are connected,” Joyce Dougherty, Oregon Department of Education child nutrition programs director, said in a statement announcing the awards Friday.

All Oregon school districts are required to have wellness policies, but the 10-year-old award highlights outstanding programs and policies that promote healthy student and staff behavior. Programs at the schools include breakfast in the classroom, parent education and family events, classroom movement brain energizers, and healthy cooking programs for families.

Adams Principal Byron Bethards credited his program’s holistic approach to health, citing programs such as a yoga class, a school garden and regular taste tests for the kids of local fruits and vegetables.

“It’s not just about physical action,” he said, although the school has activity clubs too.

St. Paul Superintendent Joe Wehrli said this was not an overnight success: The program has been a work in progress for years, with involvement from Community, staff and students.

The schools win a $2,500 prize, a banner and a certificate of recognition. The Nutrition Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council join ODE to sponsor the awards. ODE offers resources for school wellness programs.

- Jake Arnold, OSBA