Chicago Community Creates Healthier School Environment for Physical Activity


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John Spry Community School in Chicago, Ill. (28.9% Latino) was awarded a grant for the 2014-2015 school year through Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) and CSX Transportation to increase physical activity and engage the surround community. It began with a morning walking program and a Family Fitness Night and expanded to aligning with Chicago Public School wellness policies.

“These efforts have resulted in nutrition education for all students, healthy celebrations and the use of non-food rewards in class,” according to AFHK.

These efforts also earned the school a volunteer service day with AFHK and CSX. Students, community members, and AFHK and CSX employees volunteered four hours to:

  • Improve the playground with graphics including a soccer area, baseball/kickball area, and four square.
  • Refurbish the gymnasium by fixing floor boards, painting the walls and constructing a “Spry Scorpions” team sign.
  • Paint murals in the school’s cafeteria, teachers lounges, counseling room and playground to brighten the walls and inspire students through healthy and active messages.
  • Plant 50 trees at nearby Hayes Park.

Majority-minority schools tend to offer fewer programs and and lack access to physical activity opportunities, according to a new research review by Salud America!. For example, “Latino-majority elementary schools were less likely than white-majority schools to offer 20 minutes of recess daily, or physical education for at least 150 minutes a week.”

In order to eliminate inequity in access to physical activity opportunities and reduce disparities in obesity, it is important for school administrators to develop initiatives in and around their school to increase students physical activity levels. As demonstrated in Spry, healthy changes start with just one initiative and expand from there.

Learn more about this healthier school in Chicago here.

Read about Salud Heroes in a neighboring community that also worked to improve physical activity opportunities for students and community members.

Share on Twitter: School initiative improves access to physical activity & keeps doing more.  @SaludToday 

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latino parents support public funding for afterschool programs.

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