Healthier students tend to perform better. That’s why the Mexico School District No. 59 is making changes in nutrition and physical activity policies and practices as part of a healthy schools initiative supported through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). These positive changes were recently recognized by the DHSS on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when a Certificate of Appreciation for Exemplary Work in Missouri Schools was presented to Dr. Zachary Templeton, Assistant Superintendent and Lynda Thurman, Eugene Field School Nurse during the Missouri Coordinated School Health Conference.

The initiative seeks to address childhood obesity and promote wellness through a two-pronged approach: facilitating assessments of the school environment and policies, and implementing corresponding action plans in school settings. In Mexico School District this work includes:

● Nurses work with the SHAC (School Health Advisory Council) & Health Leadership Team at YMCA

● Provide PE teachers with professional development. (PALS, MOAHPERD)

● Encourage teachers to offer brain breaks during the academic day.

● Increase participation in elementary walking clubs before & after school.

● Fitbit program for teachers

● Provide pedometers to students

● Assist in coordinating community fun walks for family 3 times a year.

● Provide information to families on events in the community

● Walk & Bike to School Day in the fall and spring

● Intramural sports, zero hour, and open access to gyms and equipment at the high school

● Increase physical fitness options for indoor recess with Wii & Xbox.

The initiative has a five-year cycle and is entering its fourth year. The Mexico School District is one of eight school districts across the state participating in the initiative. The other districts are Poplar Bluff R-1, Potosi R-3, West Plains R-6, Center 58 (Kansas City), Grandview C-4, Neosho R-V and McDonald County R-1.

“We believe that our responsibility to our students and staff extends beyond academics. Enjoying a healthy lifestyle provides an increase in quality of life that we hope to support through participation in wellness activities and a commitment to teaching healthy habits. The initiative has reinforced our commitment to instilling these characteristics into our daily practices and how we approach the education of the total child.” states Templeton, Assistant Superintendent.

Some of the areas Mexico 59 will be focusing on in the upcoming year are:

● Including quality physical education/activity programs within the district

● Providing training for district personnel on nutrition and physical education/activity

● Working with the Missouri Asthma Prevention and Control Program to provide asthma training and resources to school staff

● Providing cooking skills training for food service staff to support healthy school nutrition