With Go for the Gold, HSC is partnering with Chicago Public Schools to ignite a city-wide movement for health and learning.
Schools are making health-promoting changes to meet the HealthierUS School Challenge, First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to tackle childhood obesity. The challenge calls on schools to offer healthy school food, nutrition education, health-promoting school polices and more physical activity.
Here in Chicago, HSC and Chicago Public Schools have joined with the Illinois State Board of Education and USDA Midwest to launch Go for the Gold, a program that helps schools across the city meet the challenge requirements.
We work with school leaders to look at the whole school environment, identify opportunities for health-promoting changes, connect with peers who have successfully made similar changes and then put those changes in motion.
Often, this means connecting schools with community resources, such as nutrition education organizations, sports and physical activity groups or grants to buy recess equipment. It also means supporting principals as they develop healthy school-wide policies, such as replacing a candy-based fundraiser with a dance-a-thon.
Go for the Gold builds on the new school food program that Chicago Public Schools rolled out for the 2010-11 school year. School lunches and breakfasts now meet—and often exceed—the nutritional gold standard of the HealthierUS School Challenge.
We’ve created a website just for our Go for the Gold campaign! This site, designed primarily for schools seeking to meet the challenge, includes program details, practical tips and success stories.
Go for the Gold benefits students, schools and our city as a whole.
It also connects a national movement to valuable on-the-ground action.
It’s about health. One in three children aged 2 to 19 is overweight or obese, putting them at risk for developing traditionally adult diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and conditions associated with heart disease. The good news is that small healthy changes at school can change this.
It’s about learning. Students who eat nutritious meals, like a healthy breakfast, do better in school. So do students who participate in daily physical activity.
It’s about justice. Childhood obesity isn’t just a public health issue: it’s a social justice issue. Chicago Public Schools educates 400,000 students at 675 schools. Forty-four percent are Latino; 45 percent are African-American and 87 percent come from low-income families. These students face higher rates of childhood obesity than the national average. In Chicago, improving school wellness is about ensuring that children facing health disparities get healthy food, physical activity and health education.
It’s a national movement. Go for the Gold supports schools going for the HealthierUS School Challenge, a USDA program established in 2004 that is a cornerstone of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.
Go for the Gold helps schools make healthy changes in key areas:
Snacks and fundraising: Schools can send a strong message about making healthy eating choices by setting high nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in à la carte lines, school stores, vending machines and fundraisers.
Physical education: A formal physical education curriculum can inspire a lifelong love of fitness and increase students’ social skills and motor skills. Plus, physically active students are better learners.
Physical activity: Physical activity during the school day helps students focus better in the classroom, increases social skills and encourages an active lifestyle. Recess, for example, is great way to get students moving. During class time, teachers can integrate physical activity into lessons.
School-wide policies: The federal government requires school districts to develop wellness policies. Schools can also set their own policies that promote health, wellness and student learning.
School meals: CPS has established nutrition standards that meet the gold standard of the HealthierUS School Challenge. This means school food includes more fruit and vegetables, more variety of produce including the most nutrient-rich dark green and orange veggies and more whole grains and less sodium, among other health-promoting changes.
Nutrition education: Nutrition education helps young learners build a lifetime of healthy habits.
Go for the Gold engages wellness champions throughout the school community:
More than 30,000 Chicago Public Schools students are in schools that have received recognition. Now, they can benefit from healthier school food, increased physical activity and increased nutrition education.
Here are just two examples of how Go for the Gold has created healthier school environments:
Did you know...
Karen Atwood, President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Terry Mazany, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, co-chair the civic and business group supporting this effort. This group brings together a group of talented, committed leaders and creates the space to make new connections, formulate innovative ideas and strategies, and encourage the emergence of city-wide support for a school environment that promotes healthy eating and physical activity for all children.
Gold Level Members
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
The Chicago Community Trust
Silver Level Member
Michael Reese Health Trust
Bronze Level Member
Go for the Gold is a partnership of Healthy Schools Campaign and Chicago Public Schools, with the USDA Midwest and Illinois State Board of Education. The success of Go for the Gold is made possible with the support of a generous Civic + Business Advisory Committee and the participation of many active community partners.