Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) is healthier thanks to the commendable efforts of Health & Wellness Resource Teacher and Physical Activity Lead, Sharon Hillidge.
Hillidge is a native of San Diego County and has served as a dynamic educator, dedicated mentor, role model and advocate for children’s wellness at CVESD for more than 37 years. She has ensured school health, safety, and overall school wellness remains a top priority, especially giving rising concerns about childhood obesity. In 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese in the United States.
Taking a hard look at childhood obesity rates locally, CVESD, in 2010, measured the height and weight of more than 25,000 CVESD students through their BMI Height & Weight Surveillance Project. The data revealed that almost 40% of their students were at an unhealthy weight. Armed with this knowledge and the fortitude to make positive changes, CVESD developed a plan of action, which ultimately included making major revisions to their district wellness policy. Some of these changes featured the elimination of unhealthy food items in classroom celebrations. The district also implemented healthy fundraising strategies in an effort to further create a school environment that supports health and wellness.
Hillidge has led many of these efforts. On May 27, 2015, the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) South Region recognized and honored Hillidgewith the Live Well San Diego Champion Award. This award acknowledged the exemplary work Hillidge has been doing to make CVESD a district that promotes and implements strategies to create healthier school environments. Barbara Jiménez, Director for HHSA Central and South Regions, presented the award at the CVESD Board Meeting, where more than 100 parents, educators, and community partners were present.
Hillidge was recognized for several efforts including serving as a leader for her school district and helping CVESD become the first Live Well San Diego recognized school district partner on April 17, 2013. She also created and implemented the Exercise The Dream Program for CVESD. In 2010, 2012 and 2014, Hillidge led CVESD in conducting the BMI Height & Weight Surveillance Projects - foundational for many of the district’s healthy school environment changes.
The recognition also highlighted that for more than 10 years, Hillidge has collaborated with HHSA on projects and grants including:
Hillidge has also served as a leader for HHSA South Region for many years, as one of the co-founders of the Live Well San Diego South Region Leadership Team, and as co-chair on the Live Well San Diego South Region school subcommittee.
The Live Well San Diego Champion Award recognizes individuals and organizations who have exemplified a strong sense of commitment and who have made outstanding contributions to creating healthy, safe and thriving communities for the residents of San Diego County.
Hillidge will be retiring from the Chula Vista Elementary School District in July 2015..
For more information, please contact Tina Emmerick at Tina.Emmerick@sdcounty.ca.gov.
Pictured above (left to right): Tina Emmerick, Sharon Hillidge, Barbara Jiménez, Paulina Bobenrieth