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Three TUSD schools awarded for healthy changes

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

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Three Tucson Unified School District schools were recognized Wednesday for efforts in living more healthfully at school and at home.  Pueblo High School, C.E. Rose and Tully Elementary schools all were awarded national Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS Challenge, a program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

"I'm so honored and proud to be here today with students from Tully, Pueblo and Rose," said Tucson mayor, Jonathan Rothschild during a celebration and award assembly at Pueblo High School Wednesday morning. 

The three schools are the only in Tucson to be recognized by the program, which is voluntary. Recognition, however, only comes after schools make changes to the type of food served and physical activity levels by students.

"If you eat junk food, it sort of slows your body and metabolism down," Adriana Barajas, a Pueblo senior and member of Pueblo's Student Wellness Advisory Team, or SWAT. "It's easier to stay on top of things when you know you've eaten right. It gives you a better feeling about yourself."

In Arizona, 53.3% of children in families living under the poverty level are overweight or obese, compared with 44.8% of children from families in the same situation nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Childhood obesity, childhood diabetes are challenges that we face and so this is a good start," Dr. H.T. Sanchez, TUSD's superintendent said. "This {award} makes a dent in it, but we have so much more work to do." 

Pueblo is the first Arizona high school to earn this award.  SWAT started at the school in 2010, offering healthy, bilingual recipes for families. 

"We have a lot of room to grow in educating our families," Sanchez said. "I think our students are a good start. They learn the lessons here, they experience the cuisine here and then they take it home."

Change came in the form of nutrition classes and gardens, healthier foods in cafeterias and vending machines and keeping gyms open during lunch hours, school officials said.

"I get excited that all of this is happening because it gets more students to know about the changes that are happening, like they know now," Barajas said.  

Sanchez says he hopes the three schools recognized Wednesday will now serve as ambassadors to other schools in the district. 

 

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Three Tucson Unified School District schools are being recognized nationally for making healthy changes.

One local high school is the first in the state to receive the honor.  These three TUSD schools transformed their environments – gyms are now open at recess, students are taking field trips to the grocery store and gardens are teaching lifelong lessons.

Today officials from the Arizona Department of Education will present three TUSD schools with bronze awards for making healthy changes.  The awards are part of the Healthier U.S. School Challenge which is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools.

CE Rose and Tully Elementary schools along with Pueblo High School are receiving the awards.  Pueblo is the first high school in the state to receive the honor.  To win the awards schools had to do three things – offer healthy food, provide nutrition education and increase exercise. 

The schools will be honored at a celebration today from 10 a.m. to noon at Pueblo High School.

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