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  • Jim Townsend

Portland Middle School Using “Project Healthy Schools” to Promote Healthy Choices

During the current school year, Portland Middle School is incorporating a program with sixth grade students called “Project Healthy Schools.”

Physical Education teacher Amanda Beckett and Principal Kevin Robydek worked together to secure the grant for this program. Beckett is in her 12th year with the district, and 10th year teaching physical education at the middle school.

Beckett said, “Project Healthy Schools is a program developed by U of M that encourages healthy habits through education, environmental change, and an overall improvement in school wellness. The educational lessons focus on sixth-grade students; however, the program benefits all students, school staff, and families through take-home activities, changes to the school environment, and wellness initiatives we are incorporating school wide.

The program goals are for students to:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables

  • Choose less sugary food and beverages

  • Eat less fast and fatty food

  • Be active every day

  • Spend less time in front of a screen”

Principal Kevin Robydek said, “Our goal is to create a School culture that promotes healthy choices, educates our students in the areas of exercise and health, and helps students gain lifelong healthy lifestyle. All three of these goals will help us to reduce Childhood obesity in our community.”

Beckett added, “I have also incorporated these lessons with my Lifetime Fitness students who are in 7th and 8th grade because they will not have Health class until 9th grade and as we all know, health habits, good or bad are developed at an early age. I feel that taking one day a week to learn about nutrition in the classroom benefits their overall health and well-being, the rest of the week we are exercising and strength training.”

Beckett went on to say that, “Portland Middle School is one of 19 schools across the state receiving a Building Healthy Communities program this fall. Mr. Robydek found this grant opportunity and we were fortunate to qualify! We not only received the health curriculum and teaching supplies but the grant also provides funding for P.E. equipment, food expenses for healthy cooking lessons and wellness initiatives. Some of the school wide wellness initiatives we have implemented this year are healthy taste testing for all students, a school wide race (“The Turkey Trot”), lunchroom assessments and improvements, and after school exercise classes.”

Robydek added that, “The individuals behind the implementation of any grant is the difference between a short time impact or a long-lasting impact. Mrs. Beckett is involving students and community members which enhances the likelihood Project Healthy Schools Grant will have a long-lasting impact on our schools and our community.”

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