By Tommy Noyes


School children are seen here in Kalaheo during a Walk to School Day.

A recent media release distributed by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health announced a record number of Hawai‘i public schools will receive “Excellence in Wellness” awards this spring. And two of those schools are on Kaua‘i.

Since 2013, public schools have received the award based on their outstanding implementation of the Department of Education’s Wellness Guidelines. These guidelines — a set of standards for foods and beverages provided to students — include goals for school-based wellness committees, health and physical education, and other practices supporting student health.

A total of 84 Hawai‘i public elementary, middle and high schools met over 90 percent of the Wellness Guidelines during the 2014-2015 school year, up from 45 schools in 2013-2014, according to the annual Safety and Wellness Survey.

Although this trend is encouraging, only two Kaua‘i schools received recognition for excellence. Congratulations go to Koloa Elementary School and Waimea Canyon Middle School for achieving the “Excellence in Wellness” award. Progress is being made. For the 2014-2015 School Year, 100 percent of Kauai’s schools completed their SAWS reports, up from 27% the prior year.

To support improved adherence to Hawai‘i’s Wellness Guidelines at your child’s school, express your concerns to the principal. Is your school’s Wellness Guidelines committee active? Who is your committee leader? Offer your help as a concerned parent. All schools are encouraged to follow or exceed the Wellness Guidelines and attain recognition for their efforts while improving students’ health and wellness.

“Excellence in Wellness” banners co-sponsored by HDOH and Action for Healthy Kids will be presented during annual fitness meets.

“The increase in support for wellness in our schools is notable and we hope that this momentum will continue,” said Director of Health Virginia Pressler, M.D. “This data demonstrates the successful partnership we have with the DOE to strengthen implementation and monitor the Wellness Guidelines as we move forward.”

The Hawai‘i Departments of Education and Health jointly administer the SAWS annually to track implementation of the Guidelines. Results indicate a consistently high level of achievement with survey respondents meeting an average of 82 percent of the DOE Wellness Guidelines in 2014-2015.

Tommy Noyes

Tommy Noyes

Highlights from the 2014-2015 SAWS include:

  • All school meals (100 percent) continue to meet or exceed federal nutrient standards;
  • Health and Physical Education classes align with the Hawai‘i Content and Performance Standards III at 94 percent and 97 percent of schools, respectively; and
  • Students have at least 20 minutes a day of supervised recess, during which they are encouraged to be physically active at 84 percent of schools.

“Healthy habits not only result in a student’s physical wellness but also contribute to a successful pathway in college and career readiness,” Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “Implementing wellness practices is an important element to ensuring that students are prepared for life after high school. Congratulations to all the schools that have made this a priority.”

The Safety and Wellness Survey Data Report for School Year 2014-15 is available at

Visit and click on Teaching and Learning, then Health and Nutrition for more information.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.