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Smooth(ie) Operators at Turner Elementary

Harvey Turner Elementary School
Pasadena, Texas

Harvey Turner Elementary School in Pasadena, Texas has made a school-wide effort to highlight healthy eating and increase physical activity among students, and a $1,000 grant from Action for Healthy Kids, made possible by ALDI – as well as a team of dedicated ALDI volunteers – gave them the opportunity to mix things up a little during the 2017-2018 school year.

To celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week in April, the school used the grant funds to host its first-ever Smoothie Night for students, parents and staff. Attendees selected one of eight smoothie recipe cards (e.g. strawberry spinach, peanut butter and jelly, tropical orange), then advanced through stations to choose their liquid base, fruits, veggies, fiber and fat. They then handed their filled cup to one of 20 ALDI store volunteers manning the blender station to have their concoction mixed into a delicious, nutritious treat.

Families were also able to pick up AFHK handouts and read posters touting the health benefits of ginger, beetroot, broccoli, cucumbers and other ingredients used in the smoothies. Staff and volunteers served close to 380 smoothies in less than two hours, and a survey confirmed that the event was a hit.

“It was amazing, and we will definitely add this to our yearly events!” said physical education specialist Jackie Caver, who serves on Turner’s Health Advisory Committee and leads many of its initiatives.

In addition to Caver, the committee consists of the principal as well as a teacher from each grade level, nurse, counselor, cafeteria representative, parent and community member and meets twice a year to set goals and discuss things they can do to improve the health of the campus. The team has worked to weave health and wellness into all aspects of the school day, from a before-school Open Gym program, to a health tip during morning announcements, to daily recess and PE for all grades, to brain energizers in the classroom.

The message is reinforced through various weekly, monthly and yearly activities and events. Turner’s science teacher hosts a gardening club once a week, while the cafeteria staff introduces a different fruit or veggie each month and holds a taste test event to advertise the new food item. PE hosts a monthly Monday Mile Meet where families can come in the evening and walk or jog on the school track with students. Caver gives out certificates to each family and presents a trophy to the family that accumulated the most miles during the year. The school also hosts a yearly pedestrian safety class during PE time followed by a walk-to-school event at the end of the week; as part of the most recent event, which took place in November 2017, 279 students and parents walked to school.

In addition, the school’s staff participates in four district wellness challenges throughout the school year focusing on drinking water, stressing less with relaxation techniques, eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising daily. They host their own faculty challenges during the fall (“Lose a Turkey”), winter break (“Maintain No Gain”) and spring (“New Year ~ New You”).

Caver even posts daily challenges on the Turner PE Facebook page for students to complete during the summer months. Students tag her with a picture showing they finished a challenge, and at the beginning of the new school year she gives them tickets good for morning PE time or PE with a friend.

Fourth grader Landon French said of his teacher’s healthful influence, “The biggest change that I made was with soda drinking. With the help of Mrs. Caver and joining a football team when I was in second grade, I realized that I could not do my best if my body wasn’t hydrated. So, I do not have any sodas during the week. I have one on Saturdays — it is like a treat. Mrs. Caver has influenced me a lot. She has made making healthy choices something fun, not a chore. I know what she has taught me will stick with me forever.”

The school is grateful to AFHK and ALDI for their support and plans to continue looking for new ways to help students eat healthier and move more!