Special Report: Health Promoting Schools

Candy, pizza and french fries are all favorites for many children, but a new Wellness Policy adopted by Mesa County School District 51 has some students trading in the french fries for apples and oranges.

The District adopted the policy in compliance with a federal mandate that stated all schools had to develop a local wellness policy by the first day of school. But the district didn't want to just comply with the mandate., they wanted to take it one step further and make it both fun and rewarding for the schools and the students.

Schools that pledge to be a Health Promoting School have the opportunity to earn up to $1,000. To get the big bucks they have to make some big changes. For example; instead of having a bake sale with cookies, schools can earn points for using items like granola bars or even bumper stickers. Kim Morelli's fourth grade class decided that Halloween was a perfect time to start.

While kids everywhere were stocking up on sugary treats, her class was munching on fruits and veggies. To most everyone's surprise there were no complaints. Fourth grader Ty Gardner said it was good for a change that they didn't have candy because now he'll have more energy to do the things he likes.

The link between nutrition, physical activity and learning has long been known, and teachers in Health Promoting Schools are finding it's true; healthy kids do learn better.

Schools that earn the maximum amount of points possible by June will be entered into a drawing for $5,000. The money is donated by Steps to a Healthier Mesa County and the Rocky Mountain Health Plans Foundation.