Exemplary School Makes Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Part Of "The Environment Students See Everyday"

CONCORD, NH -- On June 4th, 2011, Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL NH) will award its first 'ED'ie Award to Thorntons Ferry Elementary School in Merrimack. The school has an enrollment of 518 children in grades K-4. On Friday, May 20th, HEAL met with students and staff at Thorntons Ferry Elementary to present a certificate prior to the official 'EDie' award ceremony.

Since 1994, the New Hampshire Excellence in Education Awards Program, referred to as 'ED'ies, has recognized New Hampshire schools and individuals who meet high standards of excellence. The 'ED'ie award ceremony attracts about 800 people each year. This year it will be held June 4th at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. As part of the HEAL 'Ed'ie Award, Thorntons Ferry Elementary will receive $500 to advance their work promoting healthy eating and active living.

HEAL considered applications from schools throughout the state, from kindergarten through 12th grade, to select its first 'ED'ie Award recipient. Healthy eating and physical activity opportunities for students and staff, a school wellness policy, an active wellness committee and measurable outcomes were among the criteria used to select the winning school.

"There are many schools doing great work to provide students more nutritional food and physical activity, we wanted to recognize these efforts by awarding a HEAL 'ED'ie," explains Shawn LaFrance, Executive Director of the Foundation for Healthy Communities, the non-profit organization that leads the HEAL campaign.

edies-logo-for-podium"When we conducted a site visit to Thorntons Ferry Elementary School, we were impressed by the depth and breadth of their engagement and commitment to creating an environment for the students and staff that promoted healthy eating and active living," says LaFrance. "Their entire school community is on board."

Thorntons Ferry Elementary School principal, Bridey Bellemare, credits the commitment of their wellness committee to the success of the school wellness policy they started five years ago. "Under the guidance of Sue Robinson, our physical education teacher, we have been able to achieve school-wide participation and engagement," explains Bellemare. "We have worked hard to make the program sustainable. We use quick visuals on the bulletin board and messages about nutrition and physical activity throughout the building, so it's part of the environment the students and staff see every day."

Bellemare said a visual that has been particularly effective is hanging strings of sugar packets from the ceiling to show how much sugar is in different types of beverages. The school also incorporates nutrition and physical activity as part of its curriculum and uses messaging from 5-2-1-0 HealthyNH initiative and other HEAL NH programs.

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH campaign began in 2008 and is led by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, a non-profit New Hampshire organization focused on improving health and healthcare through innovative partnerships. HEAL is supported by a collaboration of foundations and state agencies committed to promoting health and wellbeing for all New Hampshire residents. Funding is provided by HNHfoundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Endowment for Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, NH Charitable Foundation, and NH Department of Health and Human Services. More information about the HEAL NH campaign can be found at www.healnh.org.

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