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posted: 7/15/2014 2:47 PM

Middle school teacher honored for promoting healthy lifestyles

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Abbott Middle School mathematics teacher Kim Elders was named the 2013-14 Illinois inductee into the Fuel Up to Play 60 Hall of Fame. Elders received the award for her role as program adviser, promoting healthy lifestyle changes among students and staff members and changing the culture of her school to include nutritional awareness and physical activity as an important part of students' daily routine.

"Kim's prestigious recognition as the only Illinois inductee into the Fuel Up to Play 60 Hall of Fame shows how her efforts are inspiring our students to make healthier choices," Superintendent José Torres said in a news release. "U-46 is proud to have national award-winning teachers in our classrooms."

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a national school wellness program established by the National Dairy Council and National Football League in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It encourages young adults to eat healthy and stay active for at least 60 minutes a day.

"Educating our students at a young age about the importance of a nutritious diet and daily exercise will teach them to adopt healthy habits that will impact the rest of their lives," Elders said. "Fuel Up to Play 60 is a great program that encourages kids to be healthy and active in a fun way."

Elders' efforts were supported by co-advisors, physical education teacher Chad Dahlman and Miguel Medel in food services, and the school's principal and cafeteria workers. They formed a student advisory of 50 students invested in making Abbott Middle School a healthy place to learn and grow.

The student advisory group collaborates to improve food options in the cafeteria, promote and manage their campaign, "Are you in?," and plan health-themed activities for the student body such as Breakfast -- Grab and Go! and Taste Test Days.

Breakfast -- Grab and Go! provides nutritious meals for students on their way to class or between periods. Taste Test Days allow students to try healthy foods and voice suggestions about new items to add to the cafeteria's menu.

Abbott Middle School achieved "Touchdown" status this year for its active involvement in Fuel Up to Play 60. The honor is awarded to schools who reach program goals and show a dedication to healthy change. Kenyon Woods and Larsen Middle School also were named Touchdown Schools for their participation in Fuel Up to Play 60.

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