Crowley ISD Connections Magazine Spring 2018 - Page 7

Blue Zones Approved Oakmont Elementary becomes Crowley ISD’s first Blue Zones Project Approved campus Written by Megan Middleton Oakmont Elementary third-grader Andrew Santiago can snack on fruits and veggies at lunch, dance to vocabulary lessons in class and catch a little yoga after school. Santiago is excited that his school is helping him become healthier as a Blue Zones Project Approved campus — the very first in Crowley ISD. “That’s a big accomplishment for us,” said Santiago, a Blue Zones student ambassador. “We’re becoming really healthy. Every day we are doing activities in the gym, outside. We are getting more fit every single day.” Oakmont celebrated the Blue Zones designation in February with a special 1-mile morning walk around the school, followed by a ceremony with Blue Zones officials and city and school leaders. Since the Blue Zones Project began in Fort Worth in February 2015, more than 260 organizations — including worksites, restaurants, schools, grocery stores and faith-based organizations — have become Blue Zones Project Approved or Participating Organizations. Other participating schools are in Fort Worth ISD, Keller ISD and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. “It’s very exciting, and I’m very proud to be the first Blue Zones school in Crowley ISD and to be a part of this initiative that Fort Worth, Texas is doing,” Oakmont Principal Dr. Kim Scoggins said. Scoggins said February’s celebration was the culmination of a three-year journey. “We started trying to find healthier ways to educate and do things differently here,” she said. Those healthy initiatives include serving more fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, offering a Walking School Bus program to encourage students and families to walk to school together and using GoNoodle movement videos that students dance to while learning vocabulary and math lessons. Oakmont also is working with REAL School Gardens to establish a garden and outdoor learning areas for students, and the school plans to begin sending home healthy recipes for families via the school newsletter. “For our students, if we can help them make better choices in exercising more, we know that helps the brain,” Scoggins said. “If they can make better dietary choices … that impacts their ability to learn and function and be attentive in class.” Oakmont Counselor Kelley Phillips helped lead the effort to become Blue Zones Project Approved. Phillips saw the impact that her own family’s healthy choices had on their lives. In addition, her husband’s workplace is a Blue Zones worksite where healthy living is promoted. “When I saw how that was affecting them, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if we could bring that into the schools,’” she said. Matt Dufrene, vice president and market executive for Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, was on hand for Oakmont’s celebration. He said the project is about “being everywhere in the community where people live, work and play.” “We’re really excited that Oakmont Elementary is the first approved school in Crowley ISD, but we hope that’s just the beginning of many more,” Dufrene said. “We hope in Fort Worth that Blue Zones Project becomes pervasive throughout the community.” Established in 2010, Blue Zones Project is inspired by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author who identified five regions of the world — or Blue Zones — with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. Blue Zones Project incorporates Buettner’s findings and works with cities to implement policies and programs that will move a community toward optimal health and well-being. Spring 2018 | CROWLEY ISD CONNECTIONS 7