Palmer Lake active schools web

As the new school year began earlier this month, Palmer Lake Elementary welcomed back students and staff – and celebrated a national award.

The school was recently honored with the Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award, which recognizes the top physical education and physical activity programs in the nation’s K-12 schools. As part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, the award celebrates a school’s commitment to providing students with at least 60 minutes a day of before-, during- and after-school physical activity.

Palmer Lake was one of only nine Minnesota schools to receive this prestigious honor for 2016. Throughout the U.S., only 544 schools were recognized as Let’s Move! Active Schools.

Cathy Hanson and Linda Broberg, who teach physical education at Palmer Lake Elementary, submitted the award application on behalf of their school. The nomination highlighted how they – along with Palmer Lake’s leadership and staff – have integrated physical activity throughout the school day.

“The physical education curriculum in District 279 is set up to follow national standards,” Hanson said, “and we also offer students opportunities before and after school to exercise – like when they’re waiting for their buses to arrive. For staff, we’ve set up fitness classes in the past that promoted daily step goals and healthy eating habits.”

One area where Hanson believes Palmer Lake Elementary excels is in the “family and community engagement” component of the award. She said the school has promoted local fun runs and partnered with the Park Center Senior High cross country teams to foster exercise opportunities for the past several years.

Additionally, Palmer Lake students and staff participate in Jump Rope for Heart challenges – which promote heart health – and Fuel Up to Play 60, a partnership of the National Dairy Council and the National Football League that empowers youth, schools and communities to engage in healthy activities.

“We commend Palmer Lake’s model work around enhancing physical education and physical activity opportunities,” said Charlene Burgeson, executive director of Let’s Move! Active Schools. “Palmer Lake Elementary is leading the way in this generation-changing movement that is transforming our nation’s schools into active and healthy hubs.”

Along with the Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award, Palmer Lake Elementary also received two educational grants: 35 yoga mats and curriculum materials from Yoga Foster, and curriculum and gift certificates from wellness company SPARK.

For Hanson and Broberg, seeing Palmer Lake achieve national Let’s Move! Active Schools designation is the culmination of many years of work that will continue for years to come.

“This award shows that we believe staying active and healthy is important for our students,” Hanson said. “We know how regular physical activity can positively impact students, and we’re committed to creating a healthy environment for our students and staff.”