First Blue Zones Approved School in Hilo
Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School in Hilo was recently named the first Blue Zones Project Approved school in the state.
The school has embraced the Power of 9 principles of health and well-being, including the “Move Naturally” and “Plant Slant” concepts.
Along with implementing a Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, Chiefess Kapiolani has also committed to having 100 percent of students begin their day with physical movement activities.
“At Chiefess Kapiolani, we believe that there is a direct connection between a child’s education and their health,” says David Dinkle, school principal. “We are working with our school community to create and develop healthy habits and practices at the school level so that our children are physically and mentally prepared for college and/or a career. We are excited to be the first school in the state to be partnered with Blue Zones Project.”
The school was recognized by the Blue Zones Project team for its outstanding achievement and commitment to student well-being with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its May Day celebration on Wednesday.
In August, the school will continue the celebration with a community family-fun day. The celebration will be open to the public and guests are welcome to participate in fun and natural movement activities, including the use of the popular Blue Zones Project smoothie blender bike.
The school achieved Blue Zones Project Approved status by successfully completing the Blue Zones Project School Pledge, which provides administrators with a menu of evidence-based best practices for optimizing the school’s environment so that students are encouraged to eat better, move more, reduce sedentary time, increase healthy social interactions, and increase mindfulness. It also introduces a selection of programs that schools can implement to promote the physical and emotional health of students.
Chiefess Kapiolani implemented numerous best practices for promoting well-being. Among them:
The school applied for The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program to help combat childhood obesity
Teachers implemented a Social/Emotional Curriculum called Second Step in some classes, which teaches skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. Next year, all classes Pre-K to 6th grade will participate and receive instruction in Second Step.
Over 50 percent of classes have been engaging in physical movement activities at the start of the school day to increase blood flow and brain activity. The school has committed to having 100% of students involved in physical movement activities first thing in the morning by next year.
They rebuilt their school garden, which teaches children about healthier food options, reconnects them with nature, and promotes natural movement.