On Your Health

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Understanding Certified Healthy Schools in Oklahoma

Sharpened pencils, bright new binders and moans and groans in the air all mean it’s back-to-school season in Oklahoma. As you prepare your kids to head back to the classroom, you may have noticed your school is a “Certified Healthy School.” But what does this mean?

Certified Healthy Oklahoma

In 2003, a new initiative swept through Oklahoma to certify businesses and communities excelling in their stewardship of Oklahoma’s health and wellness. In 2010, the program extended to schools as the Certified Healthy School Program. Administered by the Oklahoma Turning Point Council, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Center for the Advancement of Wellness, this certification recognizes schools that are “providing a healthy environment for students and employees, along with supporting an overall healthier Oklahoma.”

What does it take to be a certified healthy school?

Oklahoma applicants are scored and assigned one of three levels of certification:
  • Basic
  • Merit
  • Excellence
Both public and private schools can apply, and every school has to reapply yearly to continue their certification. To earn the certification, a school must meet most of 75 criteria across eight categories. These categories are (1) Health Education; (2) Physical Education; (3) Health Services; (4) Nutrition Services; (5) Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services; (6) Healthy and Safe School Environment; (7) Health Promotion for Staff; (8) Family and Community Involvement.

Why become a certified healthy school?

In Oklahoma, a 2011 study revealed approximately 17.4 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 were obese, and the state ranked fourteenth in the nation for the highest rate of childhood obesity. In 2015, Oklahoma was ranked sixth in the nation for highest obesity rates in high school students, at 17.3 percent. Obesity can increase the risks of many other issues, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  According to the American Psychological Association, obesity and depression are often interlinked and can trigger each other. Becoming a certified healthy school may seem a daunting task, but this program is important because it empowers schools and students to become physically healthier while also encouraging a safe and productive school environment. The program equips schools with trainings, materials and toolkits to create effective and cohesive programming for the children. INTEGRIS has partnered with Stanley F. Hupfeld Academy at Western Village, Oklahoma’s first charter elementary school, and has been involved in training the students to adopt a healthy lifestyle through fun activities like the Baking Club with INTEGRIS registered dietitian, Pam Patty. These courses help students try new healthy foods, step outside of their comfort zones and see the benefits of healthy eating. Visit the Certified Healthy Oklahoma and Certified Healthy School Program to learn more about your school and ways to get involved in this initiative.

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