School Board member Carrie Coyner starts some days by motivating other adults to be fit and healthy during her early-morning exercise class at the local YMCA. But, as a mother of three children and an engaged PTA member, the Bermuda District representative understands that healthy habits start at a young age.
Recently, Coyner was named an Action for Healthy Kids 2017 Healthy School Hero award winner for her work and dedication to wellness in the life of Chesterfield County students.
Through Coyner’s leadership and innovative ideas, Elizabeth Scott Elementary has created a culture of wellness that allows students to live well and learn well. It is not just one program or one fundraiser that creates this change, but that collective impact of building an environment and creating opportunities that encourages healthy choices. This model of wellness integration strategically infuses movement and health messaging into the classroom and school building.
Coyner has worked with nonprofits, school staff and PTA members to start a wellness committee, develop a school learning garden, provide playground equipment, organize a family field day and healthy family festival and celebrate “Fruit and Veggie Week” with taste tests, among other activities. She also recruited before- and after-school volunteers to teach yoga, dance, running and soccer to help kids get their 60 minutes of physical activity each school day.
“We want everyone in our community to understand why exercise, sleep, reduced stress, sensory integration, music, and other brain rules are so critical to academics,” Coyner said.
“We believe if we can help everyone understand the connections between health/wellness and academic success, we will increase learning opportunities for our students,” she said. “We want families to know the ‘why’ behind our wellness culture at school.”
Coyner joins 12 other winners from across the nation who were nominated by their peers as driving forces behind school wellness initiatives. They represent the many faces of individuals across the country helping to create healthier school environments for students, from food service directors to PE teachers to principals and parent volunteers.
“We are proud to have Mrs. Coyner named as a Healthy School Hero,” school board chair John Erbach said. “The work she does as a school board member, PTA leader and parent to promote wellness is felt throughout our entire community. She is committed to the integration of health and wellness into the school division, and our 60,000-plus students and their families are better off for it.”
“Throughout the past three years, the school division has engaged dozens of community members to create a comprehensive wellness plan, and Mrs. Coyner has been a champion for wellness throughout Chesterfield County Public Schools,” Superintendent James Lane said.
Since 2004, Action for Healthy Kids has recognized educators, parents, health professionals and community leaders for their service toward the vision, mission and goals of the organization – to make every kid healthy, active and ready to learn.