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Champions Moment - February 2014

Mark TaftMark Taft is from Keene and became a Champion on January 6th, 2014 when he made the pledge to live, share, model and inspire the Healthy Monadnock 2020 initiative. Mark is the Principal of James Faulkner Elementary School in Stoddard, NH.

Mark become a Healthy Monadnock 2020 Champion because “I am proud of the efforts being taken at our school to encourage healthier lifestyles as well as my own efforts to eat well, eat local and exercise more”, says Mark. This January, Mark and his fellow Champion staff decided “it was time “to get the word out” about James Faulkner Elementary School” and complete the School Champion assessment as a way to engage staff, students and families around making the healthy choice, the easy choice for all.

In his role as principal of James Faulkner Elementary School, Mark has made great strides in helping improve the health of the Monadnock region. “I do my part to improve the health of our community by encouraging the development of a garden at our school and incorporating the produce our staff and students grow in our garden into our school lunch as well as exposing our students to a greater variety of vegetables. At school, we have also encouraged more exercise and this fall took the entire student body on a hike up Pitcher Mountain! We plan to make this an annual or even twice yearly event! I am also proud to say that we were highlighted in the Keene Sentinel for our “Heart Healthy” Valentines’ Day last year when we celebrated with healthy snacks and drinks promoting a healthier celebration culture here at our school.”

After joining as a Champion himself recently and getting his school on board as a Healthy Monadnock School Champion, Mark sees great value in the Champions program. “The publicity from the Champions Program is a great way for individuals, schools and organizations to get ideas on how to develop successful programs and improve their individual and collective healthy habits. It publicizes the exciting ideas, stories and changes which helps to generate momentum in the community for a healthier Monadnock.”

Mark applauds the work of the Keene community around healthy eating and active living, especially Organizational Champions, the Monadnock Food Coop.  “My wife and I have been shopping there since they opened and the access to healthy foods and locally grown foods is noteworthy”, says Mark. “I would also invite the Cheshire Rail Trail to become Organizational Champions (if I could) as it provides the community with a great year-round access for outdoor exercise!”