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Three Philly schools honored for commitment to health

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Three Philadelphia schools were recently recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for transforming their facilities into healthier environments.

Wister Elementary, F.S. Edmonds Elementary, and Baldi Middle School received the National Healthy Schools Award at its Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13.

These schools were chosen among 250 nationwide because each improved its nutrition and wellness services by meeting the Healthy Schools Program standards of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the American Heart Association and Clinton Foundation.

“We need thousands more schools … like [Baldi, Edmonds, and Wister]” said Howell Wechsler, AHG’s chief executive officer. “Schools that are fully committed to promoting health and wellness, which is vital to improving students’ academic performance."

More than 24,000 schools across the country enrolled in AHG’s program, which negotiates voluntary agreements with industry leaders and provides guidance, professional development, and resources for accessing healthier food and drink and physical activities.

Wister received its award for creating an afterschool basketball league, increasing breaks throughout the school day, implementing school-wide fitness testing, removing unhealthy snacks from vending machines, and hosting smoothie taste-testing in classrooms.

Edmonds received a bronze award for serving fruits, vegetables, water, and 100 percent fruit juices at breakfast, increasing recess time, and instituting a physical activity program, where students practice their subjects while they move.

Jodi Hanauer, a 2nd-grade teacher at Edmonds, said her students are more conscious about making healthy decisions.

“Given the choice between a candy bar or healthy snacks, 98 percent choose healthy snacks,” Hanauer said. “I’ve seen it.”

Baldi won a bronze award for its collaboration with Eat.Right.Now., a nutrition education and obesity prevention program led by the District and funded by the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). The school also was recognized for removing unhealthy beverages, implementing a morning walk program, and for its upcoming Zumba classes for faculty members. Baldi students, too, are now making their own healthy decisions.

“Students, if given the opportunity, will be in the gym at 6:45 in the morning,” said Baldi’s physical education teacher Jeffrey Brown. “That’s an amazing thing to see.”

Brown said the visible changes in wellness have excited principal Eugene McLaughlin, who will meet with faculty next week to reassess the school’s progress with the program.

“Bronze means third place,” said Brown. “[McLaughlin] is extremely driven, and he will not just accept the bronze.”

Any school in the United States may enroll in AHG’s program to gain wellness assistance and support, at no cost, by visiting

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