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Health is a Home Run at Reilly Elementary School

Reilly Elementary School
Chicago, Illinois

Cafeteria Photo CollageAt Chicago’s Reilly Elementary School, a PreK-8 school where more than 95% of the population qualifies for free and reduced-price meals, students face a variety of obstacles to eating well and being physically active. Fortunately, with the help of a $1,000 Game On grant provided by Action for Healthy Kids and sponsored by Cubs Care, a McCormick Foundation Fund, the school was able to make the health of students, parents and the surrounding community – prime Chicago Cubs baseball country – a top priority during the 2017-2018 school year.

IL – Reilly Elementary School – Cubs3 – resizedReilly had already begun introducing workshops to combat unhealthy eating habits through taste testing, nutrition education, and after-school cooking classes to teach students and their parents how to prepare healthy foods at home. The Game On funds helped them expand the cooking workshops, which saw a 50% increase in parent participation during the school year, as well as replace some of the junk food served at parent meetings with smarter options.

“We no longer serve doughnuts or cake,” said assistant principal Trinidad Liberto, “and our parent leaders make healthy food choices like fruit and yogurt.”

The school also used the grant funds to purchase healthy-choice snacks that exposed kids to food items they had never tasted before, as well as jump ropes, balls and a large parachute for use in PE classes.

In April 2018, Reilly celebrated Every Kid Healthy Week by revamping its annual “Dia Del Niño,” or “Day of the Child,” event to be healthier. (Also known as Children’s Day, the holiday is celebrated on April 30 each year as a tribute to children in Mexico.) In addition to replacing ice cream, candy and juice boxes with healthier options like trail mix, yogurt and water, the school added additional activity stations to get kids to move more.

Liberto said the parents and community members who attended embraced the positive changes and now look to the school as the leader in supporting health and wellness initiatives in the community. And even though the 2017-2018 school year has come to an end, she said, Reilly plans to continue doing its part to create lifelong habits in students that will impact their community for many years to come.