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Daisy Brook Elementary Flourishes with Healthy Changes

Daisy Brook Elementary School
Fremont, Michigan

Class With Hula HoopsThe staff at Daisy Brook Elementary School in Fremont, MI recognized poor eating habits among its students and limited time and equipment for physical activity. They knew they needed to shake things up, so they formed a school health team and applied for and received a Building Healthy Communities: Step Up for School Wellness program, a collaborative state partnership supported by Michigan Action for Healthy Kids.

As the team prepared to begin implementing the program, their principal left the school. “We were so excited to begin the program… and the wind was taken out of our sails,” said Physical Education teacher Julie Gardenour.

Under the circumstances, most schools might give up with the loss of leadership. However, the Daisy Brook health team stood up and accepted the challenge. They added interim principal Donna Hieftje to their team and asked for extra technical assistance.

“Considering all of my new responsibilities, it was difficult to try and learn about this new program in a very short time period and then implement the eight new resources we were awarded,” said Hieftje, “But we knew our students needed this, and we just committed the extra time for them.”

We have already seen so many positive outcomes from this program and are glad we stuck with it!” said Gardenour. “The staff are grateful for the new physical activity equipment and GoNoodle Plus program, while students are excited about the upcoming school-wide taste testing event focused on fresh vegetables and fruit.”

Additionally, the new Michigan Model for Health curriculum in schools has encouraged healthier snack time with choices shifting from sugary snacks to fresh fruit or vegetables. Through the Michigan Model, lessons are being taught to all students that include proper nutrition, physical activity, and other wellness concerns. Parents also receive suggestions for related activities that can be done at home. A 5th grade Daisy Brook student recently commented, “When I go to the store with my mom we do not buy pop anymore; I drink more water than before.” Sixty-one percent of Daisy Brook students receive free and reduced-price school meals, and many have recently expressed excitement over eating fruits like muskmelon and grapes for lunch. A fresh salad bar will be added to the lunch line before the end of the school year.

The Building Healthy Communities program at Daisy Brook has resulted in a change in attitude and outlook among students and staff. The school is not only committed to improving physical activity and healthy eating habits among its students, but has now made a focus on healthy living choices a part of the school culture.