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Shaler Area making strides to promote health, wellness

| Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler Area School District soon could be recognized in a county program for promoting health and wellness in students and staff throughout the district.

The school board gave approval Nov. 16 for the administration to apply to become a Live Well Allegheny School.

“It would be a distinction that we could be proud of,” said human resources director Gary Mignogna. “I think it's a worthwhile endeavor.”

Live Well Allegheny is a countywide campaign that works with communities, schools, workplaces and restaurants to promote health and wellness, said Hannah Hardy, program manager of chronic disease prevention programs with the county health department. Live Well Allegheny was launched in 2014 by the county department of health.

If Shaler Area is approved to become a Live Well School, it will join seven others schools in Allegheny County that have received the designation. The goal is to get all 43 school districts in the program, Hardy said.

“We're looking at working with entities in Allegheny County to surround residents with healthy choices,” Hardy said. “It is really important for our students. They spend a lot of time at schools.”

For Shaler Area to become a Live Well school, it has to identify four action steps that work to accomplish the goals of the campaign. Mignogna said the district already is doing a number of things to promote health and wellness with students and staff.

The district's food service serves up fresh fruits and vegetables, offers healthy food in vending machines, promotes students filling reusable water bottles at water stations through the high school and offers unique opportunities in physical education like mountain biking.

Mignogna said the district plans to introduce a couple of new wellness initiatives in the new year specifically for staff. It will have a healthy cooking demonstration for staff with food service provider The Nutrition Group to help focus on nutrition.

To get people more active, they also are introducing a 10,000-step daily walking challenge for staff to track their steps. Steps can be tracked with activity trackers, phone or with pedometers.

“If we have healthy staff, we will be able to promote that for the students,” Mignogna said.

To learn more about Live Well Allegheny, visit livewellallegheny.com.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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