Turning Plans into Progress: 2014 Together Counts™ Grant Winners

National PTA is a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing childhood obesity by providing tools to schools and families encouraging active, healthy lifestyles through energy balance.

For the past 4 years through its Together Counts™ program, HWCF has challenged schools to improve it’s energy balance footprint, believing incentives create change. Schools have responded overwhelmingly this year and we’re delighted to share stories of HWCF’s grand prize winners, hoping to inspire more schools to take on the challenge to change.

Find Your Balance Challenge:

The Find Your Balance Challenge, a program designed to reward student teams for taking steps toward achieving Energy Balance in their school communities, has named Sara Williams, a fifth grade teacher at Barry Elementary School in Clovis, N.M. as the 2014 grand prize winner for launching a wellness program for the school’s fifth grade students. Williams’ program, which saw 100% participation among the school’s fifth graders, emphasizes the importance of balancing energy in with energy out. Volunteers from the United States Air Force underscored the importance of physical activity and conducted mock physical training tests. To track their activity, students participated in a daily “mile marker” exercise initiative. Additionally, students were offered a nutritious breakfast each morning.  A Title I School, Barry Elementary was also able to create a “backpack program” designed to send qualifying students home with weekend snacks and meals. In recognition of this massive effort, Discovery Education and Good Sports will award the deserving Barry Elementary with $30,000 in cash and new sporting equipment. The school will also receive an Ultimate Energy Balance School Assembly, and Williams will receive a five-night stay in a suite provided by Wyndham® Extra Holidays.

Smart from the Start Awards:

The Smart from the Start Awards program, a new incentive program launched this year in an effort to support and bolster healthy living initiatives for preschoolers, their families and communities, has named Keiana Davis, a Pre-K teacher at Just Like Grandma’s Childcare & Learning Center in Columbus, Ohio as the 2014 grand prize winner. The Center was awarded the grand prize for its “5/60 campaign,” designed to ensure that Pre-K students are eating five fruits and vegetables and exercising for at least 60 minutes per day. Creatively seeking support through community partnerships with organizations such as Yellow Tractor for their “Farm to School” program, grabbed the attention of judges. As the grand prize winner, Just Like Grandma’s Childcare and Learning Center will receive a $20,000 grant as well as a prize pack of books.

Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes:

Maryvale Primary School of Cheektowaga, N.Y. and Piedmont Elementary of Piedmont, Ala. have been selected as the grand prize winners of this year’s Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes. Acknowledging the importance of supporting low-income schools, the sweepstakes proudly recognizes Piedmont Elementary as this year’s Title 1 grand prize winner. Each school will receive $30,000 in cash and new sporting goods equipment as well as a new playground from Playworld Systems.

According to the CDC in 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.  The Together Counts™ initiative is a national campaign that is trying to reduce that number by promoting active, healthy living through energy balance – balancing the calories we consume with the calories we burn. The program focuses its efforts on two critical areas – families and schools. It provides tips, tools and incentives for parents, teachers and school health professionals to use in encouraging energy balance. All resources are free, downloadable and available in both English and Spanish.

For a complete listing of all of the Together Counts 2014 grant winners visit TogetherCounts.com or click here. To apply for Healthy Lifestyles grant for your PTA click here.

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