In this Confessions of a Partially Proficient Parent blog post, EdNews Colorado editor and writer Julie Poppen calls out some committed Colorado moms who are making our schools healthier.

Few people would argue that childhood obesity is a major threat to our nation on many levels, not the least of which is the health and wellbeing of our children as they grow up. But how many parents out there are really willing to put in the time and get down and dirty (in some cases quite literally in a school garden) to make a difference for our kids?

Denver students sampling healthy food options. Photo courtesy Colorado Action for Healthy Kids

In Colorado, plenty.

So, let’s take some time to honor some parents who are making the health of our children a top priority. What better place for a parent to really make healthy change than at school? Public education. The great equalizer. All children come through our educational system and it’s the best way to catch them while they’re young and impressionable.

Colorado Action for Healthy Kids is giving parents the tools they need to make improvements at school in terms of both physical activity and exercise and healthier school lunches, snacks and birthday party treats, and thriving school gardens, too.

The press release announcing these often unsung school volunteers states: “…These heroes have demonstrated exceptional dedication and service towards the vision, mission, and goals of Action for Healthy Kids through volunteer work in their schools.”

Award winners will receive a $500 health and wellness grant for their school.

Drum roll please…..

🔗2012 Healthy School Heroes

The nonprofit organization’s Parents are the Power Healthy School Heroes for 2012  (and details written about them by their peers) are:

Linda Bartels, Cottonwood Creek Elementary (Cherry Creek): Linda has been a tireless volunteer working to make health and wellness a focus at her school and in her district for many years. This year she organized bike to school days, and she developed and implemented the school’s first Healthy Choices Week – a week-long event that focused on nutrition and physical activity.

Tracy Edwards, Bradley International Elementary (Denver): Tracy coordinated 16 volunteers and worked with local grocery stores, food banks and community partners to provide a bag of food – a “backpack” – for 50 students to take home each week. Her infectious grace and drive inspired other parents to donate their time and energy to make sure the kids most in need got the nutritious foods they needed through the Backpack Program.

Ire Evans, Challenge School (Cherry Creek): Ire has volunteered hundreds of hours preparing healthy snacks for the students and parents at her school and working with Nutrition Services to better understand the policy and procedures around school food so that she can support healthier meals. Ire started a health and wellness team at her school and is working on getting a school garden up and running.

Francine Loomiller, Carl Sandburg Elementary (Littleton): An avid gardener, Francine took it upon herself to work with several community partners to start a garden at her school. In collaboration with students, Francine came up with the idea of a “pizza garden” and now they are growing all the toppings needed for a delicious pizza. Francine is teaching the kids where their food comes from and helping them to better understand the importance of what they eat.

Cindy Pignatore, Blue Heron Elementary (Jeffco): Cindy’s nomination comes directly from the school principal. She has been an outstanding leader of wellness at both the school and district level. Cindy was instrumental in the successful application for a school garden grant and she coordinated a “Harvest Bar” in the school cafeteria that features fresh fruits and vegetables. The kids love it.

Julie Strain, Greenwood Elementary (Cherry Creek): Julie recognized a need for a focus around health and wellness at her school, so she jumped in as PTCO President to better direct the effort. Under Julie’s leadership the school started a health and wellness team, expanded a morning running club to meet year-round, held its first school-wide fun run in which over 400 kids participated, and most importantly, got discussions going around the school’s values related to health and wellness.

Deirdre Sullivan, O’Dea Core Knowledge Elementary (Poudre): Deirdre works professionally as a health educator and carries that passion over to volunteer work in her children’s school. In 2009 Deirdre recognized the need for more physical activity in her school. She developed a “PE for Me Campaign” and got the initiative on the mill levy ballot. In 2010 it passed and those funds are being used to support more PE, health services and interventions that include physical activity.

Congratulations to all these Colorado moms.

In Colorado, despite its reputation for being lean and mean, we’ve still got issues. According to LiveWell Colorado, nearly 58 percent of Colorado adults and a quarter of our children are overweight or obese. If trends continue, only 33 percent of Colorado adults will be a healthy weight by 2020.

So, let’s all roll up our sleeves and get to work. (A lot of this work is fun and tasty, too).

🔗About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.