A Community Effort Towards Better Health
Sand Hill Elementary
Sand Hill Elementary School in Carrollton, Georgia may have a high rate of students who qualify for free and reduced meals–and an equally high need for resources–but administrators and staff are determined to provide the healthiest possible environment for students. Their primary goal: to get kids eating healthier and moving more.
In order to work toward that goal, Sand Hill knew they had to be proactive in collaborating with community partners. In addition to receiving a $500 grant from Action for Healthy Kids, sponsored by CSX, Sand Hill was able to obtain community funding that enabled them to begin incorporating innovative wellness programs during the 2017-2018 school year. To increase kids’ physical activity throughout the school day, they purchased new recess equipment, GoNoodle video programming, and a Cosmic Kids yoga membership for use during brain breaks and indoor recess activities. With extra funding, they bought additional fitness equipment for the track as well as two water bottle filling stations, which allow students to refill their water bottles and keep them in the classroom to stay hydrated.
To bolster their nutrition program, Sand Hill began holding taste tests to encourage students to try new foods, implementing a mobile kitchen cart program to assist with the tastings in their kindergarten classrooms. Parent Kristina Kayden credits the taste tests with expanding her little one’s palate.
“My child is more willing to try new things for snacks and dinners and doesn’t want as many sugary snacks,” she said.
Sand Hill also created a school garden that includes garden beds as well as a garden tower that holds approximately 54 plants and has a composting space in the center. Not only does it introduce kids to fruits, vegetables and herbs they may not be familiar with, it also teaches them how to grow their own food and gives teachers the opportunity to incorporate nutrition education into their curriculum. School Foodservice Manager Debbie Butler has noticed changes in students’ eating behaviors since the garden was created.
“Students are eating their vegetables at lunch and are more willing to try the ‘green stuff!’” she said.
The school plans to add flavored water to the drinking options at the water bottle filling stations next year, using fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from the garden to flavor the water.
These recent programs increased enthusiasm and participation in healthy initiatives not only among students, but also among parents and staff. After seeing a significant increase in parent involvement at the school, Sand Hill recruited 30 families to assist with the nutrition program and help build the school garden beds and greenhouse. They also created a garden club that includes students, staff, parents and PTO members. Family events have become a key component of the school’s programming, with the Parent Picnic and Field Day they held to celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week in April 2018 drawing more than 300 parents, staff and volunteers.