Game On Grant Brings Healthy Habits to All Students
Fair Oaks Elementary School, Osseo Area Schools
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Fair Oaks Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, MN has made significant strides in student health and wellness over the past two years as part of its Action for Healthy Kids Game On programs funded by Saputo, including earning the school a Silver award from the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms initiative.
With 81% of Fair Oaks students receiving free or reduced-price meals and many students living in communities which have limited access to green space, it’s so important for the school to make the most of student health opportunities.
Introducing brain breaks and taste tests were key accomplishments during the 2016–2017 school year. Fair Oaks saw an average increase of 10 minutes of physical activity for all students daily, thanks to the implementation of classroom brain breaks using newly purchased equipment. In addition, the 17 languages spoken by Fair Oaks students provided inspiration for taste test activities, which were designed to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of the student population. The results and feedback from the taste tests then helped to inform the menu for school meals, which includes new fruits and vegetables chosen by the students.
Having set a sturdy foundation for health and wellness, Fair Oaks set their sights on tackling more specific health needs related to improving the quality of recess with their 2017–2018 school year grant. School staff noticed that it was especially difficult to get the older children (4th and 5th graders) moving during recess due to boredom with the playground. So they used part of their Game On funds to purchase jump ropes and heavy duty sleds for warm and cold weather fitness.
Said Tiffany Thor, recess supervisor, “With the new jump ropes, I have noticed the students enjoying jumping rope on their own and together with friends during recess. There has been an increase in activity.” Anne Strootman, Resource Manager, added, “The kids race out the door, competing for who gets to the sleds first each day at recess. The older kids are eating it up—so excited to slide down the snow piles created from the plows by the parking lot. They also enjoy pulling each other on the sleds.”
This year, Fair Oaks also put a focus on nutrition education, teaching students where healthy food comes from and planning events that showcase those foods. For example, the year started off with a schoolwide tasting event called the Great Lakes Apple Crunch. Carmy Mersereau, a second grade teacher, asked her students how they liked the Apple Crunch, and they said, “I learned that apples grow on the farm, and they are so juicy and sweet,” and “Apples have vitamin C and are so healthy for my body.”
This will also be the third year Fair Oaks has celebrated Every Kid Healthy Week. Each year the celebration gets bigger and better, with many more teachers joining the planning team to build on previous years’ activities. Every Kid Healthy Week 2018 will feature active recess games, an assembly on nutrition and getting 60 minutes of physical activity per day, a farm field trip, and a healthy food taste test. The school’s Girls on the Run club is also holding a schoolwide walking event in March and will encourage students and families to attend.