Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA was very fortunate last year to be a Healthy Lifestyle 101: Energy Balance grant recipient, and we are super fortunate to receive the grant again this school year! Last year, our PTA focused primarily on increasing opportunities to engage in physical activity. Our school is small and, being located in the Bavarian Region of Germany (we are an American school on a US military installation), the weather often keeps kids indoors for recess—with no space to move around and be active. While physical activity is still an important aspect of our Energy Balance program, we are also working to encourage students and families to make healthy eating choices. Here is a sampling of some of the PTA grant programs that we’ve already implemented for the 2014 – 2015 school year:
Fall Family Fun Run – Families spent a Saturday morning at our community fitness center to run a 400m, 1-mile, or 5 km run/walk. Some kids were very ambitious and ran all three! We plan to hold an end-of-the-year fun run in June.
Gardening Program – This is a school-wide program spearheaded by our Host Nation (German) teacher. We started off this two-year program with a full-blown “gardening party” day. Parents, teachers, and students spent an afternoon engaged in physical activity by working together, pulling weeds and planting some new shrubs. In the spring, some of our Energy Balance grant funds will be used to plant vegetables and fruit trees.
Try Day Friday – This is an event we just tried in October and will now continue once every quarter. During each Try Day Friday event, all students have an opportunity to learn about and taste a fruit or vegetable. For the first quarter, students tried mango. Most students had never tasted one before, but now the majority of them think they taste great! This program is a great way for ALL students to participate in our grant program, since it takes place during the school day.
Grizzly Family Café – Another new program, the Grizzly Café gives parents an opportunity to reserve a space each month for a special one-on-one lunch with their child. As our parents lead very hectic lifestyles, it isn’t always possible to eat a sit-down family meal together. There are a multitude of benefits children receive by eating with their parents, so this is a great way to give busy parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their child.
Halloween & Healthy Tasting Table…only if you dare! – This evening event combined our annual Halloween costume parade, our general membership meeting, and a chance for families to try some healthy foods. Students, parents, and siblings got the chance to try quinoa with roasted vegetables, baked kale chips, pomegranate, pomelo, a healthy soup, fruit smoothies, and other healthy foods. Brave kids learned that eating healthy is not only good for them, but can taste great!
I’m really excited about our PTA’s health and wellness programs this school year. Even if your PTA did not receive an Energy Balance grant this year, it is possible to implement any of the programs I discussed. You only need one person with an interest in health to advocate for positive changes within your school and get the excitement going.