How many mascots does it take to turn a school assembly into a celebration? Well, on June 7, not one, not two, but a total of SEVEN mascots rocked the Chicago Public Schools’ “Go for the Gold” HealthierUS School Challenge celebration at Walsh Elementary School. Three major Chicago sports teams sent their mascots to delight the kids and support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, Staley Da Bear (Chicago Bears) and DIBS (De Paul University Blue Demons basketball) brought down the house, with Benny shooting a basket from clear across the gym and Staley and DIBS battling it out on the drums.
Joining the merriment were USDA’s Power Panther and three mascots from Chartwells Hospitality (CPS school meals provider). Univision TV reporter Enrique Rodriguez and emcee extraordinaire kept the mascots on their toes and had the entire gym shouting “Eat Smart…Play Hard…Let’s Move!…Go for the Gold!”
A celebration of Chicago’s “Go for the Gold” initiative, the event honored twenty Chicago public schools for achieving the USDA HealthierUS School Challenge this school year. The awardees included two Gold of Distinction, eleven Gold, three Silver and four Bronze level schools. Students, parents, teachers and principals representing the twenty schools cheered as each school was recognized. Newly appointed Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard spoke about his strong commitment to student health and nutrition.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Regional Administrator Tim English presented HealthierUS School Challenge awards to each of the school principals. He talked about President Obama’s goal for America’s young people to “win the future” by studying hard in school and making healthy choices. He urged the students to support the Let’s Move! by eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise.
“Go for the Gold” is a city-wide initiative to help Chicago public schools provide health and wellness programs and answer the First Lady’s call for schools to meet the HealthierUS School Challenge. It is a partnership between the Chicago Public Schools and the Healthy Schools Campaign, with support from the Illinois State Board of Education and USDA Food and Nutrition Service. (The Healthy Schools Campaign is a national leader in advocating for healthy school environments and healthier school meals.) At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, CPS launched new school meals nutrition standards that meet and exceed the Gold Standard for the HealthierUS School Challenge. CPS is one of the first school districts to do so. Now, organizations and individuals across the city are stepping up to help schools promote nutrition education and physical activity, so more city schools can “Go for the Gold.”
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