P R E S S  R E L E A S E

Okeechobee County School District


MAY 17, 2017

Okeechobee County School District received recognition from the Florida Department of Education, Office of Healthy Schools, as a Gold level recipient of the Florida Healthy School District Award.  This award is for the period of May 2017 through April 2019 based on submission of the Florida Healthy School District Self-Assessment.  Okeechobee had received Silver recognition status during the 2015-2017 period and scored the additional points necessary to earn Gold for this period.   Every school had a Healthy School Committee that identified ways to promote the eight components of a healthy school on their campus.  The eight components on the self-assessment are:  Health Education, Physical Education, Health Services, Nutrition Services and Education, School Gardens, Counseling, Psychological and Social Services, Healthy School Environment, Health Promotion for Staff and Parent and Community Involvement.

Elementary students at one school participated in Brain Breaks, which incorporated activity into the instructional day.  Instead of sitting for an extended amount of time, students would stand up and move every few minutes, others participated in the Every Kid Healthy Week Challenge, planted vegetable gardens, or walked with pedometers to measure their steps.  Middle school and elementary students participated in the Track and Field events in a district-wide track meet.  The staff stepped up to the challenge also by participating in Zumba classes, using the district operated gym and a walking challenge.  Schools and departments across the district tracked their steps.  During the month of February, one hundred nineteen staff members from across the district participated in the Walking Challenge and logged twenty-three million steps.

Toni Wiersma, Director of Student Services, collaborated with Tiffany Collins, Administrator at Okeechobee Health Department, to support the school-based Healthy School teams to create opportunities for students and staff to participate in healthy activities. The schools and departments across the district worked to meet the requirements of the self-assessment.  The departments of Food Service, Maintenance, Grants and Special Programs, and Health Services managed projects that lead to outstanding scores in the following areas:

Health Services (88%) – Health Services remove health related barriers to attendance, performance and academic success.

Nutrition Services and Education (86%) – Children who are well nourished are able to achieve in school and healthful eating reduces the risk of life-long chronic health conditions.

Healthy School Environment (97%) – A healthy school environment reflects the physical plant as well as the social climate of the district, including safety, personal interaction and violence prevention.

Family and Community Involvement (96%) – Family and Community Involvement is key to garnering support and resources from community members and involving parents as partners.

Florida Coordinated School Health Partnership (CSHP) developed the Healthy Schools Award out of a desire to recognize and celebrate the hard work and success of school districts related to physical, mental and social health of students and staff.  The Assessment tool helps districts to determine how to remove health related barriers to learning and work toward being a Florida Healthy District.  Okeechobee County School staff and students embodied the goals of Healthy Schools Awards program and earned the highest level possible.  The Healthy Schools committees at each school are determined to meet the challenge of maintaining the Gold Level Award.