ZestQuest promotes health and wellness in schools

By Pam Bryant

boy with vegetablesA health and wellness program in 12 elementary schools now is planned to expand to more schools in South Carolina and other states.

Zest Quest, created by the Cliffs Communities in 2004, assigns wellness coaches to educate and encourage children, teachers and families at partnering schools. The goal is to develop “healthy choice” lifestyles through better diet and exercise habits.

Zest Quest now serves 5,500 students in 12 elementary schools — 11 in South Carolina and one in Asheville, N.C. According to director Patsy Smith, more than 10,000 individuals have been served since the program began. Now, Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute is charged with expanding the program. 

“Programs like Zest Quest are critically needed to respond to the growing rate of serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, among children in South Carolina and throughout the nation,” said Jorge Calzadilla, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.

A Zest Quest wellness coach at each school teaches a weekly wellness lesson and helps integrate healthy lifestyle choices into the overall curriculum of math, science, social studies and English language arts. The coach also works with faculty, staff, parents and community members to motivate healthier choices.

The Seven Daily Healthy Habits in the Zest Quest program are:

  • Eat three servings of vegetables
  • Eat two servings of fruit
  • Limit sugary drinks
  • Limit TV/video game time to 60 minutes or less
  • Get 60 minutes of physical activity
  • Eat breakfast
  • Sleep nine hours


For more information: www.zestquest.org or Patsy Wood Smith, 864-884-7073, patsys@clemson.edu.