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Teach Healthier | May 10, 2017

Strengthening School & Community Health: 2017 SHAC Award Winners

We are proud to announce the 2017 School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) Award Winners! There were 75 nominations from incredible schools districts across the Lone Star State. With such strong field of contenders, it was tough to choose just five winners. The SHACs are doing amazing work to create and sustain healthy schools. Congratulations to the winners, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Comal ISD, Lampasas ISD, Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, and Spring Branch ISD!

These SHACs were chosen using a set criteria including the number of active council members, number of participating students and parents, frequency of meetings, reporting practices, number of issue areas addressed, and accomplishments this school year. The winning districts will each receive $300 to further their amazing school health efforts!

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD had a productive year supporting their school district from all angles. The SHAC is extremely diligent about engaging parents and students across the district. Their one-for-one policy asks that each member of the SHAC bring a new person to an upcoming meeting.

Members of the Carrollton-Farmers Branch SHAC.

CFBISD truly believes that healthy students and healthy employees make better lifelong learners. The district has used the CATCH program for more than 15 years, which incorporates physical activity each day. Over the past year, they also evaluated and explored mental health among middle and high school students to provide training recommendations. Some of their schools are participating in mindfulness exercises, which has resulted in an improvement in the behavior of elementary school students! The SHAC even showed some love to CFBISD staff by working with the athletic department to provide all staff free access to workout facilities.

Award winner Comal ISD is crushing the healthy snack game at school sporting events! Their district SHAC implemented an awesome initiative this year, called“Fit Snacks,” which offers healthy concessions at all high school sporting events. Now, attendees have the option to choose healthier snacks while supporting their teams. The district SHAC has grown incredibly fast in the past year; their attendance has increased from 5-10 members to about 50 members!

Students participating in the Sow Healthy Garden program in Comal ISD.

This year, our SHAC implemented Campus School Health Advisory Councils at each of our campuses to set, implement, and monitor progress towards wellness goals,” said PE/Health/Wellness Coordinator Micaeli Smith. This is part of a wellness policy created to address recess, minutes of physical education, and healthy fundraising/classroom parties as well as remove physical activity as a form of punishment. The district SHAC and campus SHACs have also worked together to expand their Sow Healthy Garden program to 17 out of 28 campuses and spearheaded a Farm Fresh Friday program during October where students can taste test farm-fresh vegetables and learn how to grow their own garden at home. Comal ISD will use the funds to further their efforts for the district’s wellness program, Comal Fit. Their future goals include creating a kids SHAC and hosting a district-wide health and wellness night! 

The Lampasas ISD emphasizes the importance of helping families with any health aspects of their daily lives, such as nutritional information, healthy food choices, safety, mental health, physical activity, and emergency response. They worked on more than 20 policies and initiatives over the past year that benefit students of all ages. These include “Nutritional Nuggets,” a nutritional newsletter for elementary students, drug abuse awareness, and movement promotions like “Walking Wednesdays” and “Dance Fridays.” Their impressive emergency response teams initiative led them to receive the Award for Excellence in School Health by DSHS.

Lampasas ISD has a strong, diverse, energetic SHAC,” says Kimberly Kuklies, the director of school health in Lampasas ISD. “I think one of the biggest benefits to having a strong SHAC is the diverse input. Having parents of different grade level students, community members, specialty services, and a variety of district employees that impact students’ health are a huge resource to help meet and improve our students’ health needs.” 

Little Cypress ISD SHAC encouraged family health at their STAAR Night event.

The Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD SHAC is seen as a vital part of the school district and is invited to share ideas as well as disseminate accurate information to the community. As a diverse SHAC, they gained trust from their community. Each school campus is required to nominate two parents to represent them for the entire school year which brings fresh faces to the table.

Lampasas ISD SHAC and PTA coordinated a ColorDash for the community.

The SHAC has worked tirelessly all year to take part in a variety of initiatives. They endorsed and supported the Little Cypress Intermediate Stay and Play Recreational Area project which is the first all-inclusive and fully handicap accessible playground at a school in Southeast Texas. With the funds they receive from the award, they will support a new program at the high school that would result in students becoming certified EMTs.

Suzanne Magee, the director of child nutrition, was asked to be part of the school district’s SHAC and fell in love with the role. “As a community member I saw how important it was to have different professions and viewpoints,” said Suzanne. “We collaborated for the wellbeing of our children and provided advice from those positions…This is a platform where students, parents, and the community can voice their concerns, present ideas and make our community a truly healthy, safe environment for children to grow and learn.

Students in Spring Branch ISD learn how to prepare healthy snacks.

Spring Branch ISD has worked on bringing “health” back into the graduation requirements for all students, instead of just offering it as an elective course. With the help of SHAPE and the ESSA, they are advocating for a well-rounded educational experience that places students’ health on the same level playing field as other academic subjects. Their SHAC works hand-in-hand with all members of the community to look out for the best interests of the students’ health. Spring Branch ISD plans to put the SHAC Award funds toward a student health summit for kids to learn from guest speakers about the healthy actions they are taking in the community. Talk about growing health champions! 

“In Spring Branch ISD, we know that schools by themselves cannot and should not be expected to solve the nation’s most serious health and social problems,” says Samuel Karns, SBISD’s Advanced Movers coordinator, and OCHF site facilitator. “It is through collaborative spirit with our families, health care workers, the media, religious organizations, and community organizations that serve youth and young people themselves who must also be systematically involved. Schools provide a critical facility in which many agencies might work together to maintain the well-being of young people.”

Congratulations, SHAC Award winners, and thank you for your dedication to strengthening the connection between health and learning. We look forward to recognizing you at the Healthier Texas Summit this November!

We also partner with Action for Healthy Kids, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Texas PTA, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, TAHPERD, Dairy Max, and YMCA to make up the SHAC Leadership Team, which provides resources and support to new and existing councils across the state.

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