McALLEN – At Lincoln Middle School banners drape the walls of the gymnasium announcing national recognitions for cheerleading, Let's Move awards and Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG).

The school district has 18 schools among America's Healthiest Schools according AHG which released their list Aug. 8. McAllen ISD accounted for 28 percent of the schools in the Lone Star State.

“This is about reporting facts,” CEO for AHG based in New York Dr. Howell Wechsler said. “And the fact is McAllen ISD is one of the greatest success stories in terms of school districts promoting a healthy campus for its students.”

Each year AHG recognizes schools for their achievement and Wechsler said the standards are extremely high. Wechsler should know since he sets the standards.

The school district has set the standard when it comes to healthy schools in the region. For the past four years all eligible schools have achieved national recognition under Let's Move! Active Schools and for the past three years they have achieved AHG recognition including two Gold Level schools.

The challenge now is to keep up the momentum not only at the school district but at a state level.

This past session Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (TX-20) sponsored SB 1873 which requires all school districts to report on the status of their physical education programs.

“One of the biggest challenges in our schools is the lack of exercise,” Hinojosa said. “It causes obesity and health problems and quite frankly, with exercise they get better grades, better testing, better behavior and better eating habits.”

Hinojosa praised the school district from his hometown for taking the lead and creating an environment where exercise is part of the everyday schedule for students.

At the Capitol, Hinojosa frequently receives complaints from parents and teachers about the lack of time for physical education throughout the school day.

The information provided by SB 1873 will hopefully allow for systematic changes in the school system for a healthier Texas.

“That's the bill that was passed this last session,” Hinojosa said. “Now we understand the role and the importance of proper exercise in terms of living well.”

SB 1873 goes into effect Friday Sept. 1.