This second consecutive top honor from the state recognizes district efforts to promote good health among students and staff
The Sarasota County School District has earned back-to-back recognition in being named a Gold Level award recipient by Florida Action for Healthy Kids (FAHK) in commendation of its efforts to promote good health for students and staff, Sherri Reynolds, the district’s supervisor of pupil support services, told the School Board last week.
Since 2009, FAHK, the Florida Coordinated School Health Partnership and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents have recognized 36 districts as Florida Healthy School Districts, a district news release notes, “but only 10 have been recognized at the Gold Level.”
During a presentation at the Dec. 8 School Board meeting, Reynolds explained that the eight components FAHK examines in districts evolved from a 1987 report published in the Journal of School Health. Each component is a factor in addressing health-risk behaviors “that contribute markedly to the early causes of death, disability and social problems among youth and adults across the United States,” Reynolds pointed out.
Those behaviors include tobacco use, unhealthful diets and inadequate physical activity, she added.
She cited a number of health-related initiatives in which the district has become involved. For example, since 1996, she pointed out, the district has been conducting a youth risk assessment, alternating between middle school students and high school students. The district also has a School Health Advisory Committee and a Safe and Drug-Free Schools Advisory Committee, she added.
Five years ago, Reynolds continued, the district undertook its first state health assessment, focusing on those eight components FAHK examines. When the district received a Silver Level award, she said she told her colleagues, “That’s not good enough. … We want to be Gold.”
Then, in 2013, the district did earn Gold, she noted, with an overall score of 90 percent. The designation was good for two years, she said.
During the summer of 2015, Reynolds continued, district staff undertook another assessment. As a result, she said, “We scored 297 points out of 331 possible. Another 90 percent, and we got the Gold Level again.”
The necessary documentation fills a binder about 4 inches thick, which she showed the School Board and audience members. Reynolds added, “This was no small feat here.”
Then Reynolds announced the district’s scores for each of the eight components: nutrition services and education, 100 percent; health services, 97 percent; family and community involvement, 95 percent; physical education, 94 percent; employee wellness, 92 percent; healthy school environment, 90 percent; health education, 86 percent; and counseling, psychological and social services, 86 percent.
The 100-percent mark for nutrition services and education was the first perfect score in the state, Reynolds pointed out.
After she asked representatives from all those component areas to stand for recognition, she added, “As you can see, it’s a team.”
She also acknowledged the district’s collaboration on numerous initiatives with the Department of Health in Sarasota County.
When Reynolds concluded her remarks, she introduced FAHK Executive Committee member Dan Caccamo, who presented the Gold Level award in the form of a Florida Healthy School District flag. School Board Chair Shirley Brown accepted the flag on behalf of the district.
That nutrition score “is pretty amazing,” Caccamo said. “It’s a great job for you guys to get 100 percent on that.”
He added, “We applaud your district for establishing a culture and climate in which students and staff can reach their personal potential. The coordinated school health approach your district has embraced is effective in reducing and eliminating the barriers to learning and supports academic achievement.”
As he and Reynolds unfolded the flag, he asked that staff fly it below the Florida State Flag in front of the district offices at The Landings in Sarasota.
“Thank you for being at the forefront of ensuring the future of a healthy Florida by creating health-literate and health-practicing students and staff,” Caccamo told the School Board.
Florida Action for Healthy Kids is part of a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to make sure every child “is healthy, active and ready to learn,” the district news release notes.