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Belmont Elementary School Wins America’s Healthiest Schools Award

Two-time winning school emphasizes healthy living in all its forms

At Belmont Elementary School in West Baltimore, weekdays aren’t typical weekdays. Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday, Thursday is Thoughtful and Thirsty Thursday, and Friday is Physical Friday! 

All week, educators, students and the Belmont community incorporate health-conscious lessons and experiences into the school day. And their approach is getting noticed. Belmont Elementary was recently honored with its second America’s Healthiest School Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Belmont is one of 406 schools in 26 states selected for “achievements in advancing the physical, mental, and social-emotional health of students, staff, and families.”

Belmont students pose with award banner

“We’re investing in students’ health, and their understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle,” explained Coach Donte Samuel, health and wellness teacher at Belmont. “Kids internalize habits at a young age, and we’re working with the whole community to make sure they build the right ones.”

With Coach Donte’s guidance, the students and educators infuse their days with health-oriented reminders and lessons. On Wednesdays, students explore what wellness means to them throughout the day and are challenged to participate in a healthy activity after school, such as taking a walk after dinner. On Thursdays, students focus on hydration and learn about why it makes a difference. And on Fridays, students and staff are up and moving - encouraging physical activity in and out of the school’s wellness room and holding walking classes thanks to the Walking Classrooms program donated by Healthier Generation through the Oak Foundation.

As part of the healthy focus, students regularly enjoy field trips to destinations like Great Kids Farm, and are introduced to healthy food options and easy recipes to bring home to their families. 

Belmont students exercise

“I call myself the cycle breaker. I ask students to look at their habits through the lens of their health,” explained Coach Donte. “Your health is your wealth! I always say that diet means ‘did I eat that?’ Yes, you did just eat that, now think about what it’s doing to your body!”

The fun, health-conscious environment extends to teachers and the surrounding community. Coach Donte encourages educators to reward students with healthy options like apples instead of candy, and examine how they can improve their own routines. He visits nearby shops to ask them to replace chips and candy at the front of the store with fruits and healthier items.

The impressive effort at Belmont reflects the district-wide approach to wellness.

“We want to create environments and programs that enable students and staff to perform their best as learners, teachers, friends, and community members,” explained Anne Rosenthal, City Schools Farm to School Specialist. “Belmont is setting a fantastic example, and we’re thrilled to see their community earn this well-deserved honor.” 

Check out WJZ-TV coverage of Belmont’s first award, here. To learn more about City Schools’ work around student, staff, and community wellness, click here.

Explore more Progress Report stories on student health, here: 

- Mobile food pantry wins award and fills stomachs
- Tasting tomatoes and mulling about mint at Great Kids Farm
- Students access holistic support from top mental health practitioners