School Spotlight: Namaste Charter School Achieves Gold of Distinction Award!

March 08, 2011 | Written By:

Namaste student practices yoga.

HSC is pleased to be part of  the Go for the Gold campaign, a partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and HSC with the USDA Midwest and the Illinois State Board of Education to support Chicago schools in meeting the high standards for food, fitness and nutrition education set by the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. The HealthierUS School Challenge is the program that First Lady Michelle Obama is urging schools to take on as part of her Let's Move initiative. Today we are pleased to congratulate Namaste school for their exciting work to meet this challenge!

“Our goal is not only be a healthy school, but to be a model of how other public schools with limited funding can prioritize health and wellness programming to meet the needs of their students — and how focusing on this type of programming can help students achieve at their true academic potential,” said Allison Slade, principal of Namaste Charter School, a Chicago Public School in the Brighton Park neighborhood.

Namaste, a school committed to enhancing students’ physical, social and academic well-being, already has a head start on this goal. Namaste recently achieved the USDA’s Gold of Distinction Award for the HealthierUS School Challenge, recognizing the school’s continued excellence in nutrition and physical activity.

Preparing to apply for the challenge brought changes even to Namaste, a school that was founded with wellness as part of its core identity. Slade explained that the process “involved a little more scrutiny” and looking closely at existing practices to make sure they met the specific standards of the challenge.

Through this experience, Slade learned valuable lessons and has some words of wisdom for other schools hoping to take on the challenge.

“Start with the little things,” she said. “Get quick wins. . . Introduce kids to new foods through their teachers who they love and admire. Make teachers write movement breaks into their lesson plans.” For those in search of in-person inspiration, she added: “Come visit us!”

Congratulations to Namaste Charter School on winning the Gold of Distinction Award! Stay posted for updates on other schools making exciting healthy changes.

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