HEALTHY stands for Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles Together Helping Youth
UPMC Health Plan is excited to help make healthy living a reality for families in Armstrong County.
HEALTHY Armstrong started in 2005, when a body mass index (BMI) review of children attending Armstrong School District in Armstrong County, Pa., showed that 35% of them were heavier than 85% of children the same age nationally. Alarmed by this statistic, parents, teachers, and community leaders formed a coalition to improve the health and well-being of these kids and their families. With the addition of several major supporting organizations, HEALTHY Armstrong was officially born.
As a founding and current strategic partner of HEALTHY Armstrong, UPMC Health Plan helps HEALTHY Armstrong operate according to these guiding truths:
- Childhood obesity is a reflection of family habits.
- Primary focus on childhood obesity is an opportunity to engage the family through the child.
- Schools are the ideal setting to engage children and modify behavior.
UPMC Health Plan connected HEALTHY Armstrong to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition® program. In doing so, it opened up a wealth of resources as well as recognition for the county’s efforts.
In 2007, the NIH designated Armstrong County as the first We Can! county in the United States, setting the standard for other counties to follow.
Two years later, Senator Kathleen Dahlkemper used HEALTHY Armstrong as the model for her Healthy Communities Act of 2009. The legislation was passed with the National Health Reform Act of 2010.
Since 2005, important modifications have been made to Armstrong School District’s (ASD) school breakfast and lunch programs, resulting in healthier food options:
- Removed deep fryers, traditional vending machines from student areas, and a la carte candy and soda.
- Added more fruit and vegetable choices, daily yogurt/fruit plates, meal salads, and a daily soup choice.
- Switched to turkey lunchmeats and sausages, 1% and skim milk, and only whole-wheat products.
- Increased chicken, fish, and turkey choices.
- Reduced the types and amounts of desserts on the menu.
- Healthy Vending now includes low-fat cheese, yogurt, pretzels, granola bars, 100% juice, and low-calorie drinks.
Activities at ASD include morning exercise programs to begin the day and regular nutrition lessons during the school day. Many schools use pulse monitors and pedometers. All elementary schools participate in ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously), a national program that reinforces the importance of regular physical exercise. Thanks to two Carol M. White Physical Education Program grants, rock climbing walls were installed at the two high schools, Wii Fit game systems were purchased, and fitness equipment was upgraded at all elementary schools.
ASD also tracks Kid Minutes — the number of minutes of in-school physical activity each student participates in throughout the year, outside of regular physical education class.
From 2011 to 2013, Armstrong School District’s (ASD) secondary schools achieved a:
- 742% increase in content within the physical education curriculum.
- 24% increase in physical education program completeness.
- 36% increase in nutrition education curriculum completeness.
In addition, 50% of students consumed two or more fruits and three or more vegetables per day.
Visit HEALTHY Armstrong’s website to learn more: www.healthyarmstrong.com. Or find them on Facebook and Twitter.
We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition, We Can! and the We Can! logos are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).
HEALTHY Armstrong Fact Sheet
Early Childhood Rack Card
A Plan for Healthy Living: HEALTHY Armstrong
Pittsburgh Today Live! HEALTHY Armstrong Launches
Healthy Recipe Campaign(segment on ASD-TV)