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PSJA ISD emphasizes health, wellness districtwide

District leading in the 2021 It’s Time Texas Community Challenge Large District category

PHARR – As part of its commitment to maintain health and safety at the forefront, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) is once again participating in the annual It’s Time Texas Community Challenge.

Aware of the importance of health and wellness, especially during the pandemic, thousands of PSJA ISD employees, students, and parents are taking on the statewide health competition that mobilizes communities to adopt healthy lifestyles.

According to the PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo, participating in the competition is an important part of the PSJA Health & Wellness initiative which includes offering students and families coordinated social-emotional support following the effects of COVID-19. The PSJA ISD Board of Trustees passed a policy in June 2020 ensuring students and families are provided with social and emotional learning (SEL) with wraparound services.

“At PSJA ISD we are maintaining health and safety at the forefront while continuing to ensure all of our students have the experiences and resources necessary to achieve the highest levels of success,” said Dr. Arredondo, alluding to the district’s vision and mission. “Healthy bodies equal healthy minds. We want to do everything we can to support our students and staff during this time to help them succeed and continue learning.” In addition to participating in the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, the district is hosting its 3rd Annual PSJA Healthy School Competition where all 43 campuses are encouraged to participate in a friendly contest for recognition, a traveling trophy, and a special permanent banner for their schools.

At Garza-Peña Elementary in San Juan, participating in the annual Community Challenge has helped promote a healthy lifestyle for their families and further unite all employees.

“As educators and as parents, we serve as role models for our students. The spirit of uniting our school towards a common goal fosters a level of connectedness,” said Garza Peña Elementary Counselor Di-Gabriel Cabrero. “Our hope is to have our students become more active not only for their physical needs, but also for their mental health. Having them join this movement serves as a healthy way to decompress from the everyday virtual world as a means of relaxation.”

According to Cabrero, throughout the school year students have participated in weekly Wellness Wednesdays where students and staff participate in High Interval Training (HITT) workouts. In addition, employees working from the campus participate in socially distanced daily walks during their breaks and have increased their consumption of healthy foods.

“We have seen a difference. We feel happier and healthier,” shared Cabrero. “We took an active approach to continue the trend to promote a healthy lifestyle by making this Community Challenge a mission to do our absolute best to promote the overall welfare of our campus. Step by step, we have taken strides to change our bad habits into a healthy regimen.”

Like Garza-Peña Elementary, students and staff at Liberty Middle School in Pharr are also seeing the life-changing impacts of adopting a healthier lifestyle through the Community Challenge.

“Our staff and students are adopting healthier habits; they get so excited to share that even their parents stopped drinking soda,” said Coach Jose Martinez. “Our ultimate goal is for our students to understand to look out for themselves and families by practicing healthier habits.”

PSJA ISD has engaged in the statewide competition for several years now, earning 1st place in the large school district category consecutively in 2019 and 2020. Currently, PSJA ISD is leading in the large school district category competing against major school districts across the state with more than 2.8 million points.

“The Community Challenge has helped motivate many PSJA employees and community members to improve their quality of life and functioning during the pandemic,” said PSJA Health Services Director Sulema Solis. “When stress and anxiety levels are high, participation in regular physical activity has shown to boost the immune system and help improve the body’s ability to fight off infection. It has also been shown to elevate self-esteem, improved concentration, reductions in depressive symptoms, and improvements in sleep.”

The It’s Time Texas Community Challenge runs until Feb. 28, 2021. Those interested in participating or learning more can visit

Press release courtesy of PSJA ISD

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