4 Western Wake Schools Win Fitness Awards


WCPSS Board Chair Christine Kushner (left) congratulated Laurel Park Elementary, Davis Drive Elementary, Highcroft Drive Elementary and Olive Chapel Elementary for their awards. Photo courtesy of Advocates for Health in Action (AHA).

Cary, NC- Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) has given four Western Wake Schools awards for promoting healthy living by supporting healthy behaviors at school for both students and staff.

Local School Awards

Davis Drive Elementary and Highcroft Drive Elementary in Cary won the AHA Brains and Bodies Award at the Silver level designation. Davis Drive Elementary and Apex schools Laurel Park Elementary and Olive Chapel Elementary won the new Wellness Star Award. School Board Chair Christine Kushner was invited to present the awards.

“We are so impressed with the work of all these schools to make wellness and health a priority,” Sara Merz, director of AHA. “Physically active students who eat healthy foods perform better academically, have fewer disciplinary issues, and are starting off on the right foot.”

“The schools being recognized have come up with some really creative solutions, and have used research-based best practices to increase healthy behaviors in their schools. More than 43 percent of kids aged 5 to 11 in Wake County are overweight or obese,” Merz continued. “Our Brains and Bodies Award winners are making a real difference in their schools by changing the way they do their work, creating opportunities for students to be active, and implementing the WCPSS Wellness Policy and focusing on employee and student wellness.”

Brains and Bodies Program

AHA created the Brains and Bodies Award program four years ago to celebrate and recognize schools making an effort to incorporate wellness into the culture of the school day. The application process is also intended to be educational, providing schools with information and a wide array of resources and best practices to model.

The application process also provides schools with information and a wide array of resources and best practices to model . There are criteria in policy/systems, employee wellness and student wellness.

 Active Transportation

The new Wellness Star places special emphasis on active transportation to school because children need 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Students who are walking or biking to school are gaining the benefit of regular exercise and arriving at school alert and ready to learn.

Some schools have developed at school walking programs, such as Davis Drive Elementary, where every class, including the teacher, is walking, jogging or running at recess one day a week. Davis Drive P.E. Teacher Karen Mickle noted a marked decrease in students’ mile times. Other schools in the county, have begun at school walking clubs that all students may participate in when they arrive at school in the morning.

 “I congratulate the winning schools and applaud their outstanding efforts to emphasize healthy habits and to create a healthier school environment for students and staff alike,” said Kushner.

In addition to the four schools in Western Wake,  these Wake County Schools also received recognition on April 25, 2014:

  • Gold: Underwood Elementary School in Raleigh, which won the Brains and Bodies Award  (4th year)
  • Silver: Brier Creek Elementary, Hunter Elementary, Joyner Elementary,
  • Bronze: Brentwood Elementary, Lead Mine Elementary, Martin Middle School and Oak Grove Elementary
  • Other Wellness Star winners: Hunter Elementary, Martin Middle and Wake Forest Elementary.

“We hope that all schools across Wake County will be inspired by what these award-winning schools are doing, and often at little or no expense, consider things that make a big difference in student health, and be in the running to be recognized in next year’s awards,” Merz said.

School resources are online at www.AdvocatesForHealthInAction.org so schools can adapt ideas and programs that fit their school.


Story contributed by Michele McKinley, project coordinator for AHA.