Sandra Kelly has done everything from painting hop-scotch blocks on the school playground to organizing pedometer challenges to help get her students active and physically fit. The Seton Elementary School principal has also encouraged students to participate in community runs and fitness challenges, established a walk-to-school program, and made sure her North Sydney school sells only healthy beverages, like 100 per cent fruit juices and milk, in the vending machines. Ms. Kelly takes student health seriously, and she is not the only one. The veteran educator is one of 26 teachers and education partners being honoured during provincial Education Week for their efforts to promote healthy eating and physical activity in their schools. This year’s Education Week theme is Healthy Living: Step up to the Plate. Education Week runs from April 23-29. “The truth is that healthy children learn better, and that schools can play a major role in promoting healthy, active living,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “There are many educators like Sandra Kelly right across this province who are stepping up to the plate to help students enhance the quality of their lives by encouraging them make healthy choices.” The award nominees were recognized at a ceremony today, April 24, at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Akerley Campus in Dartmouth. Ms. Kelly says it is part of her job to get students excited about, and interested in, healthy eating and physical fitness. “I think it’s making a difference. We are seeing our students more engaged and certainly more on task,” she said. Over the past three years Ms. Kelly and her staff have used a number of techniques to highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The school has filled the area around the school with games, promoted activity breaks, offered prizes for kids who walk to school, and entered the school in the Fiddlers Run and Cape Breton The Lakes Active Healthy Living challenges. One of her innovative approaches has been to use pedometers so students could compete with each other to see who walked the furthest over the course of a week. The school also allows children to eat fruit and other healthy foods while in class. Developing and promoting healthy, active learners has been a key element of the province’s Learning For Life II, government’s plan for education. Over the current school year, the Department of Education and Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection have expanded the health curriculum and worked with boards to implement healthy eating policies. Support has also been made available to hire more qualified physical education teachers and increase the minimum time for phys-ed instruction. Education Week, celebrated in Nova Scotia since the 1930s, is supported by five key education partners: the Department of Education, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, the Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations, and la Federation des parents acadiens de la Nouvelle-Ecosse. For the fourth year in a row, Education Week is being sponsored by the Teachers Plus Credit Union.