Beaver Creek School District is proof positive that small, rural school communities can compete with bigger, better-heeled urban districts.
On May 25, the Yavapai Healthy School Coalition named Beaver Creek School the Yavapai Healthy School of the Year. The coalition had encouraged BCSD, a K-8 school district with one school in Rimrock, to apply for the Healthy School designation.
“Beaver Creek stood out to the coalition as truly going above and beyond in making health a priority in the classroom,” said Carol Lewis, Yavapai Healthy School Coalition coordinator and Yavapai County Community Health Services health education section manager.
“These efforts extend well into the community, making Beaver Creek’s wellness program exceptional ... always going the extra mile for their students.”
According to Lewis, the following health-related services are offered by BCSD:
- Fresh produce options for students in the cafeteria.
- A weekly food pantry that provides nutritional choices for students to take home.
- Free food distribution twice monthly to students and the community.
- Opportunities for physical activity in the classroom and after school, including a weekly afterschool open gym.
- Implementation of walk to school days.
- “Students are encouraged to take care of themselves and others through chalked messages on their campus sidewalks,” Lewis said.
- Three wellness weeks throughout the year provide a “concentrated focus on health education and provide health screenings for students and staff.”
- Education on the following health issues in the classroom and the community: Drug prevention, early childhood education, employee wellness, healthy relationships, mental health, nutrition, parenting classes, physical activity, sexual health, dental health, hygiene, sun safety, bullying and bicycle safety.
“To be the best we can be, we all need to be in great shape,” BCSD superintendent Karin Ward said. “We started that process of focusing on ourselves to be in the best frame of mind to service our students.”
According to Ward, after starting some staffrelated health initiatives, the administration got together with staff to look at internal and external resources for encouraging district student wellness.
Ward said that the district had been providing opportunities for students to walk to school for years, overcoming the challenge of traveling on a long, busy rural road with no sidewalks by busing students to a mile from school and walking with them. Other programs developed collaboratively, by seeking partnerships within the community.
“As you can imagine, in a small rural district we don’t have grocery stores,” Ward said, adding that a partnership with St. Mary’s Food Bank provided an excellent nutritional resource. “The time to go to the store far away [is considerable] .... It’s not in your backyard. For us to bring produce in is an incredible opportunity for the kids and the community.”
According to Ward, meeting the demand presented by the relative lack of local resources makes the staff and administration more aware of what students need. As a result, BCSD has become “more community centered.” “Beaver Creek, while challenged by their location and available resources, actively seeks ways to promote health and wellness of not only the students and school staff but the community as a whole,” Lewis said.
“The overall culture of health at Beaver Creek is truly a sight to behold. The community should be very proud.”
For more information about the programs supported through the Yavapai Healthy Schools Coalition, visit Yavapaihealthyschools.com.