Bringing a Community Together Through Healthy Activities
ISANA Cardinal Academy
Sun Valley, California
In 2019, Lupe Gonzales, a parent advocate, worked rigorously with fellow members of the ISANA Cardinal Academy Wellness Team to increase physical activity and nutrition education—with great result. Receiving a Game On grant from Action for Healthy Kids was the first step in making sustainable changes at ISANA Cardinal Academy that would help students, 88% of whom qualify for free and reduced price lunch, access healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.
The Wellness Team started an edible garden for students that parents and staff volunteered to beautify over a weekend. They also transformed school fundraisers to only sell healthy food options as an intentional implementation of the school’s wellness policy. Parents, who initially challenged the change, were surprised at the success fundraisers were now generating. The Wellness Team also created after-school sports opportunities with new soccer and volleyball teams. Soon they gained a community partner at a local soccer complex, which hosted student tournaments at no cost. Lupe recalls, “Receiving Action for Healthy Kids funding, we all felt a sense of responsibility to use the funds to their utmost.”
On November 14, 2019, when the nearby Saugus High School shooting happened, parents feared taking their children to school, children feared going to school, and normalcy was disrupted. Lupe remembers, “All parents wanted to do was pick up their kids and go home. I wanted to remind kids that going to school is great and that they have a place in this world.” Lupe turned to her parent allies and school staff for support, and members of the Wellness Team sprang into action. The team decided that they wanted to provide children a sense of stability and acknowledge what happened while supporting students as they coped. Teachers and counselors supported students emotionally, and Lupe and other parents continued implementing health initiatives with new resolve. Within a month of the tragedy, students began to look forward to soccer tournaments and parents looked forward to fitness classes again.
With the new nutrition programs and significant increase in physical activity minutes, the Wellness Team has noticed a remarkable positive change in students’ and parents’ attitudes toward health and well-being. ISANA Cardinal Academy continues to be a place where children can grow and thrive.
This grant was made possible with funding from Saputo.