New Resources Help You Celebrate Healthy Lifestyles

November offered a lot to celebrate: Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday to name a few. But it also celebrated Healthy Lifestyles Month, which brought families, schools, and communities together to improve the health of our children.

Even if you’re already practicing healthy habits at home, school is where children spend over 1,200 hours per year! That’s why it’s imperative to make sure they are getting nutritious foods and the recommended amount of daily physical activity at school.

Evidence shows that children who attend schools that promote physical activity and healthy eating perform better academically. What’s more, healthy school environments set the stage for children to adopt a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. Yet data shows several challenges schools face when it comes to implementing policies and programs that not only address childhood obesity but also enhance learning, behavior, attendance and more. Parents may want to help, but they don’t always know where to begin.

So what can you do?

Visit, a new website from Action for Healthy Kids and National PTA, that helps parents and caregivers learn how to engage with school leaders and decision makers on health issues and find ways to help bring more physical activity and healthy eating to the school day.

In addition to providing ways to advocate for your child’s health at school, the website also provides tips, recommendations, recipes, and other ways to live a healthy lifestyle at home. This month, you can find new recipes as well as healthy holiday ideas.

In February, we’ll be announcing grants for parent-led projects, providing funds and technical support to schools and parent groups to implement health and wellness programs that include a family engagement component.

Learn more about these grants and sign up for other news here.

Parents may not fully realize what a powerful force for change they can be in schools when it comes to health and wellness. They have more of a vested interest in student health and learning than probably any other stakeholder, and they’re in a unique position to bring school staff, other parents and community partners together to improve it.

What better way to celebrate a healthy holiday season than to take action today?

Amy Moyer, MPH, RD, is the VP Field Operations with Action for Healthy Kids and mother of two girls.

 Action for Healthy Kids is a National PTA sponsor and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA.

A New Year for Family and School Health

(Sponsored Post) It’s a new year, and for many of us it’s a time to assess our health and resolve to shed a few pounds, add more fruits and vegetables to our diets, get more exercise and generally do what we can to make ourselves and our families healthier.

It’s also a good time to take stock of the health of your child’s school. After all, that’s where they spend most of their time outside of your home—nearly 1,200 hours each year. Start with a simple quiz to see what you know about your child’s school. Does the school:

  • Allow adequate time for kids to have recess?
  • Provide active indoor recess to ensure kids get physical activity during inclement weather?
  • Ask parents to bring healthy snacks instead of sweet treats for birthdays and celebrations?
  • Incorporate active games and non-food rewards as part of classroom celebrations?
  • Provide opportunities for physical activity during the school day, such as brain breaks in the classroom?
  • Adhere to Smart Snacks standards for school meals and foods sold in school?
  • Host healthy fundraisers involving nutritious foods or physical activity?

If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, don’t despair. Join your school’s or PTA’s wellness team and find out! Then pick an area where you can make a difference. Get inspired by others like Tara Fisher-Munoz, a parent in Austin, Texas who took her passion and expertise in gardening to form the Go Green Team PTA with other volunteers and start the school’s garden program. Or Dana Dougherty, a parent and substitute teacher in Arlington, Virginia, who worked with her PTA to set up the 2FIT2QUIT team, that organized 5Ks and family fitness fairs and secured pedal desks to keep kids active while learning.

These parents started with big ideas but small steps. They and many others will attest that once you get started, it’s hard to stop, because just one program can spur a culture of health at school. By getting involved in school wellness, you can also help reinforce those healthy habits your kids are learning at home – and likely learn something new for a healthier you, too.

Learn more about how to get involved in school health at and celebrate your school’s health and wellness during Every Kid Healthy Week.

Amy Moyer, MPH, RD, is the VP Field Operations with Action for Healthy Kids and mother of two girls.

Action for Healthy Kids is a National PTA sponsor and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA.

Healthy Kids = Better Learners

AmyMoyerHealthy kids are better learners. Seems like common sense, right?

As director of field operations for Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK), a nonprofit organization that works with schools to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity, I hear this observation echoed every day by teachers, principals and others on the front lines at schools across the country. And as a mom of two and an officer of my daughter’s parent group, I see it play out in my own kids’ classrooms.

Yet a staggering one-third of our nation’s schoolchildren are overweight or obese, putting them not only at an increased risk for a variety of health complications and chronic diseases, but also at a disadvantage in the classroom.

Like our partners at National PTA, AFHK believes that this statistic is both alarming and unacceptable. Fortunately, solutions are within reach, and they’re documented in our new report, The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids Are Healthy and Ready to Learn. The report, a follow-up to our 2004 landmark report, The Learning Connection: The Value of Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity in Our Schools, is a roadmap for educators, school administrators, parents and school volunteers to create healthier school environments. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Students who attend schools that integrate student wellness are likely to have fewer absences, higher academic achievement and self-esteem, and are more likely to graduate from high school.
  • Kids who get regular physical activity experience improvements in their fitness levels and brain function. Just walking or biking to school, for example, can prime the brain for learning.
  • A review of 50 studies points to growing research that reveals that skipping breakfast hurts kids’ overall cognitive performance, which has a negative impact on their levels of alertness, attention, memory, problem-solving and math skills. By contrast, students who eat school breakfast have been shown, on average, to attend 1.5 more days of school per year and score 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests.
  • Schools can get a financial boost by offering students more nutritious meals and snacks, because when given the option, students will buy and eat healthier foods and beverages.

Read the full Learning Connection report here, and take AFHK’s Every Kid Healthy Pledge to learn how you can be a positive force for change in your school community to ensure that every child is healthy and ready to learn.

Amy Moyer is director of field operations for Action for Healthy Kids, the nation’s leading nonprofit and volunteer network fighting childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives.