Five Arizona teachers and their schools each received a $5,000 grant to fund school programs that fight childhood obesity. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona awarded the five grants based on the winners’ exceptional execution of the 2017 Walk On! Challenge.
The Walk On! Challenge is a free month-long health and fitness challenge held each year in February. The program has reached nearly 330,000 elementary-aged children since it began 12 years ago and aims to motivate participants to incorporate healthy habits into their daily routines for a healthier lifestyle now and in the future.
An independent panel of educators reviewed the applications. Scoring is based on the participation level of students, an increased awareness of healthy choices, how teachers implemented the program in the classroom and plans for the grant money.
This year’s grant applications featured ideas to create a Student Wellness Team complete with a family pantry filled with healthy foods for families in need, improved breakfast programs, updating playground equipment, purchasing “Recess Kits” complete with new balls and jump ropes and building a greenhouse so students can grow their own produce.
“We have been part of the Walk On! Challenge for three years and every year we do a combination of things to ensure our fourth and fifth graders learn the importance of healthy habits ,” said Duane Yazzie at Tsehootsooi Diné Bi Ołta’ in Fort Defiance. “Our goal is to foster the growth of an exemplary school-wide elementary physical education program, and this $5,000 grant will go far in helping us work toward that goal.”
This year’s $5,000 grant recipients were:
Teachers from 205 schools around the state participated in this year’s Challenge reaching 23,000 fourth- and fifth-graders.
“The Walk On! Challenge is part of our healthy living umbrella known as Nourishing Arizona. The program gives students a fun way to practice living a healthy lifestyle while learning firsthand the importance of good nutrition and physical activity,” said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, chief medical officer for BCBSAZ. “Our goal is to help children value their health and to recognize their own role in protecting it.”
For more information about Walk On!, grant criteria or the 5-2-1-0 daily goal, visit the Grants page.