Working Together for Healthier Students, Farewell to Annie Lionberger

June 19, 2014

Healthy change is happening

Knowing that healthy students are better learners, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has worked hard in recent years to prioritize health and wellness. And they couldn’t have done it without Annie Lionberger of the Office of Student Health and Wellness leading the way.

HSC has been proud to partner with Annie and the Office of Student Health and Wellness on groundbreaking progress for health and wellness in CPS. We’re especially proud of our work together on LearnWELL, an initiative to make CPS schools healthier places. Many pieces of the LearnWELL initiative were first piloted during Go for the Gold, a three-year campaign that improved the food and fitness environment in 40 percent of CPS elementary schools and helped more than 118 schools become certified under the HealthierUS School Challenge. After Go for the Gold ended in summer 2013, LearnWELL picked up the banner.

Under LearnWELL, Annie led the overhaul of district policies that would help shift school culture in a healthier direction, with support from CPS. Now on the books: a revamped Wellness Policy, a Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy and a Daily PE Policy. These policies act as great tools for keeping kids healthy. For example, the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy establishes nutritional standards for food outside the school lunch program, including vending machines, fundraisers and school stores. LearnWELL helps schools implement these healthy changes.

Healthy changes, by the way, are very much on the rise. There has been a 25 percent jump in the number of schools that have earned Healthy Schools certification, impacting about 110,000 students. More are on the way — we expect 243 schools to be certified as Healthy Schools within the next school year.

It’s easy to see why LearnWELL is fast becoming a national model for standardizing great strides in school wellness. Says Annie: “We have been talking about the connection between health and learning for so long, and now people are starting to understand that it's here to stay.”

As Annie moves on to Fontana Unified School District in Fontana, Calif., this July, we extend a huge thanks and big applause for working with us to make such incredible progress. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Office of Student Health and Wellness as the years continue.