Making Health a Priority at Shelby County High School - Action for Healthy Kids
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Making Health a Priority at Shelby County High School

Shelby County High School
Columbiana, Alabama

Kids Cutting VegetablesShelby County High School sits in Columbiana, Alabama, a small, rural town where residents love their community and are in invested in the success and wellbeing of their children. With limited funding and more than 40% of the school’s students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, however, healthy initiatives typically take a back seat to more pressing priorities.

So when Physical Education Coach Cedric Drake and Child Nutrition Program Area Manager Veronica West wanted to launch new initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles and foster a healthier school environment, they had to look outside the district for funding. The school applied for and received a $1,000 CSX Game On grant through Action for Healthy Kids for the 2017-18 school year, which allowed Drake and West to purchase the equipment they needed to get started.

Drake’s goal was to introduce new games and equipment in order to increase student participation in PE class, and he used grant funds to buy pickleball, dodgeball and other equipment to help get kids active and engaged. Due to the enthusiastic response, Drake plans to continue to incorporate the new games in his curriculum.

Cafeteria staff, who sought to increase students’ intake of fresh produce, purchased supplies to help them better display produce during breakfast and lunch. They began offering fresh fruit in two locations within the serving area, giving students more opportunities to make healthy choices, as well as displaying “Farm to School” signage when Alabama-grown produce is being served. They recently showcased fresh basil from the campus greenhouse in the cafeteria’s tomato, basil and mozzarella salad, and conducted a taste test with fresh produce from the school garden, in which 100% of students and staff participated.

“Students are now being exposed to a variety of fresh produce and herbs,” West says. “We hope to continue to provide [them] the opportunity to try a variety of fresh herbs from our campus greenhouse/raised bed garden.”

Shelby County High School continues to implement its new programs, while striving to further expose students to healthy lifestyles. In October, the school celebrated National School Lunch Week with the theme “Recipes for Success,” during which students had the opportunity to win non-food prizes such as movie passes and iTunes gift cards. Students and staff are excited about the healthy initiatives and are busy preparing for an AFHK Every Kid Healthy Week event in April, 2018!