2017 Healthy School Hero: Becky Rinker
Parent, Wellness Committee Member
A few years ago, Becky Rinker was reading the local newspaper when she came across an article about an upcoming wellness workshop being hosted by Deanna Philpott, the former Pennsylvania State Coordinator for Action for Healthy Kids.
“I just knew I had to be there!” she says.
Rinker had long been passionate about healthy living. A Health Management Systems major in college, she was currently working for The Juice Plus Company as a senior sales coordinator and product specialist for the company’s Tower Garden, a vertical, aeroponic growing system that can grow vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers indoors or out, using only nutrients and water. She had always led a healthy lifestyle herself, and now that she had three young boys, she worked hard to help them form healthy eating habits and encourage them to stay active through sports, outdoor activities, traveling and gardening.
When she attended the wellness workshop, Rinker says it suddenly became clear that she could use her education, work and personal experience to effect change in an entirely different sphere.
“My eyes were opened to the many ways we can and need to contribute to wellness for our kids at school,” she says. “It really changed the course of my thinking and inspired me to become more involved in my district’s wellness committee and programs.”
As a member of the Deer Lakes School District (DLSD) wellness committee, Rinker led the effort to obtain 11 Tower Gardens for the district with the help of grants, giving students the opportunity to learn firsthand where food comes from by growing their own vegetables year-round.
“The gardens really bring learning to life,” she says, pointing to the many nutrition and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lessons teachers have been able integrate into their curriculum thanks to the program. “To see the students light up when they are working with them, enjoying the ‘veggies’ of their labor through salads or smoothies, and being empowered with their knowledge and skills is just so rewarding.”
Rinker has also coordinated health and wellness grants for fitness equipment, playground stencils and a fruit tree orchard, managed the logistics for the district’s health-focused Laps for Learning event, assisted with healthy snack tastings, collaborated on designing an official wellness logo, worked to engage the community on DLSD wellness initiatives through social media, and helped raise more than $4,500 for district wellness initiatives in 2017 alone. Rinker says she loves that while students are participating in the challenges and the fitness program, they’re also learning that they and the community can make a difference.
Rinker says she’s encouraged by how enthusiastically schools across the district have embraced a culture of wellness and hopes students are learning lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives.
“I am blessed to be able to share my mission of inspiring healthy living not only through my work, but also through my volunteer opportunities,” she says. “To help others live better, healthier lives is a reward that is priceless.”