Active & Healthy Schools™

The health of American youth and adults has received considerable publicity. We often hear of lower levels of activity, a disproportionate amount of time watching TV, and increasingly poor nutrition choices. The Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program is designed to help schools develop a wellness plan that teaches active lifestyles, healthy eating habits, and safe sun-exposure behaviors.

While it may be possible to find materials to achieve these goals on your own, it would take months, even years, in the library and online to find the authoritative, credible information you need and the guidance necessary to implement a program in your schools.

The AHS Program has done all this work for you. To establish the program, purchase the AHS Complete Program Materials Set. It and other supporting program materials offer:

  • specific strategies that have been implemented and tested
  • the flexibility to complement your existing physical education program or be used in schools without physical education programs

 

Supporting program materials make it convenient to modify and create a unique program that meets your school's needs

To implement an Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program and ensure the best results for your school, AHS has established core goals in three key program areas:

A school using the Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program incorporates activity breaks into the classroom environment to give students relief from extended periods of sitting. It also includes visual aids, such as Point-of-Decision Prompts, to motivate students to be active.

The AHS Program will make it easy to achieve the following goals for the school day:

  • Provide 15+ minutes of recess daily.
  • Offer 20+ minutes or more for physical activity after lunchtime.
  • Hold at least three activity breaks of 3 to 5 minutes in length throughout the school day (not including recess or lunchtime).
  • Provide a PE program that meets two or more days each week.
  • Offer students the opportunity to earn the President's Challenge Active Lifestyle Award.
  • Provide a physical activity program to teachers and staff.
  • Post activity prompts and signs promoting activity throughout the school.

Before and after-school activities in the Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program create positive environments that encourage participation. Activities are novel or adapted so all students can join in, not just those who feel comfortable playing traditional team sports.

The AHS Program will make it easy to achieve the following goals during the hours before and after school:

  • Establish an after-school activity program (playground or gym facilities should be open and available).
  • Zone playground for safety, according to AHS guidelines.
  • Create an AHS message center (bulletin board) highlighting after-school activities, rules, news, and activity directions.
  • Focus on recreational (rather than competitive) activities.
  • Offer after-school field trips.

While increasing physical activity is an important goal for optimal health, teaching students to better manage their eating habits is just as important. The Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program teaches youngsters how to select food from every food group, get the most nutrition from the calories they ingest, and balance food and physical activity.

The AHS Program will make it easy to achieve the following goals during the hours before and after school:

  • Create a Food and Nutrition Team to oversee breakfast, snacks, lunch, celebrations, and fundraisers.
  • Promote awareness of food groups, calories, and balance of activity and nutrition.
  • Post Point-of-Decision signs to encouraging healthy food choices.
  • Offer healthy breakfast and lunch menus.
  • Offer incentives for making healthy food choices.
  • Provide take-home information about healthy food choices.
 

By following these guidelines, which are thoroughly detailed in the AHS Complete Program Materials Set, your school can positively impact the physical activity, nutritional awareness, and overall health of students, staff, and family members in these three areas.

In just a few minutes, you can Assess Your School

  • Discover how Active & Healthy your school currently is
  • Get tips for improvement in specific areas
  • Find the right resources to implement an Active & Healthy Schools program

Simply answer the questions, and we'll provide you with the results.

Get Started

About AHS

It is easy for school administrators and teachers to design an effective Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program. The AHS Complete Program Materials Set is the one must-have resource that includes all the necessary information to change the school environment so students are encouraged to increase their physical activity levels and make healthy nutrition choices. The manual includes easy-to-implement tools and strategies, all developed by noted author and educator Dr. Robert Pangrazi, Arizona State University.

Additional program materials developed by Dr. Pangrazi and Gopher, a physical education supply company, are designed to provide resources you may want to help enhance student health and well being through physical activity and nutritional awareness.

 

Getting Started

Often change can be viewed as large and overwhelming. Innovative ideas may get lost if teachers are unsure about how to implement new concepts. Not so with the Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program!

AHS solves the "change drain" by making the program consist of many smaller initiatives. This enables all participants to see the process as a series of manageable tasks. With suggestions for implementation and the program materials, your school will be on its way to becoming more active and healthy!

 

Implementing AHS

The following suggestions, combined with the Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Complete Program Materials Set, can help you create and maintain an AHS Program by devising a systematic series of smaller efforts.

Form an AHS Committee

Invite key personnel who can contribute to the program: teachers, administrators, local business owners, parents. The more diverse the committee, the more avenues to explore for help and resources.

Generate Interest

Key presentation media and documents in the AHS Program materials make it easy to inform the committee, parents, and administrators about the benefits of the Active & Healthy Schools Program.

Kick Off Your Active & Healthy Schools Program!

The more people hear about the program, the more likely they will be willing to help. Each kick-off event is unique, but consider these ideas: Have students rotate to a variety of activities while learning about the AHS Program. Create banners as an art project, then carry them in a parade. Explore activity zones on the playground. Invite teachers and parents to participate in activity zones on the playground.

Reflect, Evaluate, and Progress

Bring the committee together at least once a month to discuss progress and identify what changes or adjustments need to be made. Return the AHS Program materials, and brainstorm opportunities for new implementations. With thoughtful reflection and honest evaluation, the odds of keeping the AHS Program operating at an optimal level are much greater.

 

Supportive Evidence

The Active & Healthy Schools (AHS) Program is an evidence-based program designed to change the current environment of schools. Research reveals that it is an effective approach that focuses on increasing physical activity and teaching healthy eating habits. The program is an effective supplement to existing physical education curriculums.

A research study was conducted by the Arizona Department of Education and Arizona State University. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the AHS Program implemented by the Mesa School District in Mesa, Arizona.

The following is a synopsis of the final report submitted by Dr. Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Education, Arizona Department of Education.

[1] Impact of the AHS Program on Student Physical Activity (Steps) Students in the AHS Program show a significant increase in steps accumulated ( * = statistically significant) when examining pre- and post-test results. Results show every little bit counts when trying to increase total daily activity levels of students. Increasing each of the areas below result in a 9% increase in 24-hour activity step levels. Impact of AHS
[2] Impact of the AHS Program on Student Absences/Nurse Visits Data shows that absenteeism among students in the AHS Program decreases significantly. Nurse visits also decrease substantially (results not significant because of the limited number of visits). Impact of AHS
[3] Parents' Perceptions of the AHS Program Parents are very positive on all responses to the questions and perceived changes in student activity levels due to the AHS Program. Parents view physical education as being just as important as academic subjects. They are also aware that the school is making more effort to increase physical activity for students.
Mean
Parents' Questions                                    (1.0=Very Untrue 4.0 = Very True)
I am very aware of the increased focus of promoting daily PA at my child's school. 3.59
Currently my child's school is doing more to promote daily PA during the school day than last year. 3.55
My child has lots of opportunities to be physically active during school times. 3.34
I believe PE is as important as classroom subjects (e.g., math, reading, & writing). 3.68
I try to be physical activity with my child. 3.37
Because of my child, I am more physically active. 3.27
My child always likes being physically active. 3.44
My child is now more physically active after school. 3.49
My child is now more physically active on weekends. 3.41
My child is now more physically active during PE. 3.48
[4] Students' Perceptions of the AHS Program Students in the AHS Program are very positive about their perceptions of physical activity. Almost all students respond that they liked physical activity and physical education. Positive feelings about activity in physical education classes are the highest ranked items.
Mean
Students' Questions                                  (1.0=Very Untrue 4.0 = Very True)
I like to be physically active. 4.74
I like to be physically active in PE. 4.82
I am now more physically active in PE. 4.69
I am now more physically active during recess. 4.45
I am now more physically active during lunch. 4.28
I am now more physically active after I leave school. 4.43
I am now more physically active on Saturdays and Sundays. 4.28
My classroom teacher encourages me to be physically active in the classroom. 3.64
Every day during school I have lots of time to be physically active. 4.31
[5] School Personnel Perceptions of the AHS Program School personnel (administrators and teachers) respond favorably to the AHS Program. Strong feelings are indicated about understanding the importance of physical activity for children. Of particular interest is that teachers feel students are better behaved because of the AHS Program. Surprisingly, teachers strongly disagree that increased emphasis on physical activity is compromising academic programs. All teachers feel that the program should be funded in the future to assure adequate student activity.
Mean
Personnel's Questions                               (1.0=Very Untrue 5.0 = Very True)
I regularly participate in PE with students. 3.08
Daily PE breaks are needed for teachers as well. 3.15
I now understand better the importance of daily PE for children. 3.50
My/our students frequently talk about keeping themselves healthy and physically active. 3.11
My/our students are better behaved because of the increased number of physical activities throughout the day. 3.11
My/our students have better academic performance because of the increased number of physical activities throughout the day. 3.00
I have consistently implemented the use of classroom-based physical activity breaks. 3.18
I am happy to continue using classroom-based activity breaks. 3.45
For me, time for increased emphasis on PE is as important as time for classroom subjects (e.g., math, reading, writing). 3.15
I believe the increased emphasis on PE is taking away from classroom subjects. 1.55
Our school should do everything possible to continue funding current efforts to promote our students' physical activity during the school day. 3.75

 

In just a few minutes, you can
Assess Your School
  • Discover how Active & Healthy your school currently is
  • Get tips for improvement in specific areas
  • Find the right resources to implement an Active & Healthy Schools program
Simply answer the questions, and we'll provide you with the results. Get Started