This post was also featured on Together Count’s blog.
Obesity prevention has been identified by PTA members as a top priority for health and safety. School nutrition has long been a key component to PTA’s history, yet PTAs are relied on to raise much needed funds for schools often through food-based methods. As a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and a Together Counts™ Ambassador, we promote energy balance and encourage schools to make healthy changes having to do with more activity to balance calories consumed. This year schools began implementing “Smart Snacks” that ensure all food sold to kids during the school day is healthy. PTAs and families play a critical role in supporting the new nutrition guidelines as any fundraisers, school stores or vending machines running during the school day must meet these new standards. PTAs and school groups therefore needed a healthy, easy choice for school fundraisers.
Fire Up Your Feet, a program launched in partnership between National PTA, Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Kaiser Permanente as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Active Schools program, gives families, students and schools tools to create fun, active lifestyles that inspire our children and their families and schools to be healthy and physically active by walking before, during and after school. The program, available to any elementary and middle school (grades k-8) nationally, offers an online activity tracker and school fundraising component that supports annual PTA annual fun runs or walkathons, with 75 percent of the money raised going back to the PTA or school, which is more than the typical amount of 60percent. The Fire Up Your Feet Activity Challenge award program, which has awarded more than $115,000 and more than 1,100 K-8 schools, is also available in sponsored regions.
For many years now, Jenkins Middle School PTA has supported students, families, and staff by raising funds. They decided that Fire Up Your Feet was a wonderful way to engage students, staff, families, and the community in increasing health and wellness. They kicked off their Fire Up Your Feet Activity Challenge with a before school walk around their track, with 100 parents, staff, and students energetically completing laps while logging their hours for the challenge. As a result, they received a $200 award. Bathgate Elementary PTA proudly walked to school on October 8 (Walk to School Day) with almost 85 percent of the students participating. They used their activity challenge award to purchase additional PE equipment and provide CPR and First Aid training. Rainbow Elementary PTA used Fire Up Your Feet to support their “Walk Around the World Challenge, where families logged in almost 2,300 miles and over 79,000 minutes of exercise.
Parents are a key part to the coordinated approach to child health. Through Fire Up Your Feet National PTA is giving families the tools they need to model positive health behaviors, meet their required amount of daily physically active and burn energy together. And, it helps PTAs fully supporting the positive changes happening at school while still meeting the obligations of bringing much needed funding into the school.
In addition to this program, we’re proud to announce year three of our partnership with Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and their Together Counts program to bring schools an incentive toward healthy lifestyles through the Healthy Lifestyles: Energy Balance 101 grant. The application is open now, with a deadline of June 19, 2015. Go to PTA.org/awards to find out how your PTA can get involved.
Heather Parker, MS, CHES is the Senior Manager for Health and Safety at National PTA, where she serves as in-house expert on child health and safety and develops new programs, materials and resources to support PTA’s health and safety efforts.