J. Wilbur Haley Elementary, typically called Haley Elementary, is located at 2201 Maplecrest Road. “We started a wellness committee in our building,” said Fort Wayne Community Schools Nurse Coordinator Candis Deisler. “We learned about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and we decided to work with them. “We signed up for their free school health program online and we did a building assessment and we were able to improve our building for our students.”
One of those improvements was adding stationary exercise bikes at the Haley Elementary Library. “While you’re reading you can still be exercising,” said 5th grader Kenyah Shirey. “You’re basically reading and kind of riding a bike at the same time and while you’re riding the bike it shows how may calories you’re burning. It keeps me a lot more calm while I’m reading and riding.” “You get to be physically active,” said Andrew Marley, another Haley 5th grader. “It’s just like riding a bike but with a more comfortable seat.”
“When they’re riding those bikes and they’re reading the goal is not to go as far or as fast as you can,” said Deisler. “The goal is to move as much as you can so when you’re reading it helps increase oxygen to the brain and it actually helps with comprehension.”
“We’re also doing brain breaks in the classroom, we started a read and write program for kids, we increased our water intake by allowing them to have a water bottle in the classrooms. We’ve put signs up in the lunchroom so they know what choice they have for the day such as what vegetables they can choose from and what fruit they can choose from.”
Of the 461 schools on the list across the country, 14 are in Indiana. Haley is the only one in northeast Indiana. “It’s important to exercise because we want to be healthy and we want it to be a lifelong skills,” said Haley gym teacher Terry Cooper. “We want to start them off early so when they’re older they can be active and make their lives better.”
For its wellness efforts the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recognized Haley at the bronze level for 2018. Ultimately the Haley Comets hope to soar to the gold level on the healthy list. “If we can make it more comfortable here and make sure that health and wellness is met in the school it’s going to increase their success in education and academics,” said Deisler. “We’re taking a more holistic approach to kids’ wellness.”
America’s Healthiest Schools earned the distinction by successfully meeting a rigorous set of criteria for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality health and physical education, and empowering school leaders to be healthy role models. The schools, 81 percent of which serve high-need populations, also receive Healthier Generation’s National Healthy Schools Award at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level, based on the standards they achieve.
All of the award-winning, America’s Healthiest Schools: Meet or exceed federal nutrition standards for school meals and snacks; Offer breakfast daily; Implement district wellness policies and update progress annually; Provide students with at least 60 minutes of physical education per week; Ensure physical activity throughout the school day; And empower educators to be healthy role models.