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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Principals Launch School-Wide Wellness Programs

From the Principal Files

Principals Launch
School-Wide Wellness Programs

Image Many schools weave health awareness programs into their curriculum. Those programs improve school climate as they build wellness awareness in the wider community. Included: Principals share school-wide fitness, health, and nutrition awareness programs.

"When our bodies feel right, our minds work right!"
Thats the motto of the Wellness Committee at Pulaski Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware. The committee has arranged many programs aimed at bringing that motto to life in their school.


Valentines Day week is a very special week at Parker School in Middlesex, New Jersey. To promote wellness that week, we coordinate with the American Red Cross and their Jump Rope for Heart program, says Principal Maureen Hughes. Physical Education classes have jumping stations with different activities at each.

We also hold a Heart Healthy Feast, added Hughes. Each class contributes a different healthy snack -- celery sticks, carrot sticks, pretzels, you name it. The students bring in the healthy snacks in small snack-size plastic bags. On Valentines Day, we love our hearts. Classes visit the display of healthy snacks and choose two for their celebrations.

In addition, all teachers plan grade-appropriate classroom activities that week to support education about heart health.
Our Wellness Committee has been working hard to incorporate activities and events that will enhance physical exercise and promote a cohesive, fun environment, says Principal Tracey N. Roberts. They plan healthy living activities for staff, students, and families.
Roberts explained how Pulaskis focus on wellness starts first thing in the morning with JAMmin Minutes, a program that is a regular feature of the schools morning announcements.
At the end of the daily announcements, we play music and announce the physical exercise that everyone is expected to do while the music is playing, Roberts told Education World.
And sometimes the music meets up with the curriculum. During Hispanic Heritage Month, we teach a Spanish phrase, tell a fact about a person of Hispanic heritage, and play Latin music so that the students can exercise to a different sound, Roberts explained.
The schools wellness program extends to snack time, too. As partners in the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, all Pulaski students are served a healthful snack each day. The snacks range from cucumbers or cauliflower to kiwi or pears. Students are encouraged to at least taste each days snack. The snacks are served during D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Time or another appropriate time.
This year, as in years past, Ronald McDonald will pay a visit to Pulaski to encourage children to exercise. Last years assembly program was titled Move It Minute and this years program is called Get Active With Ronald McDonald. Ronald will be coming to us in January, notes Roberts, so we can remind students and staff about our goal of being active as the new year arrives.
In addition, the school is participating this year in the CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health)
Program, a scientifically-proven program that promotes physical activity, healthful food choices, and smoking prevention.
At Pulaski, staff as well as students benefit from programs the Wellness Committee has initiated. Last year, Pulaskis teachers started a Walking Club. Interested staff members met after school in the parking lot and walked a pre-determined path. The program helped build camaraderie among staff members and provided support for those who were trying to reach a weight-loss goal, said Roberts.
This year, the Walking Club concept is being expanded to include students. During the first 10 minutes of each recess period, students walk around the perimeter of the schools playground. Teachers log the students minutes and provide incentives. For example, students earn cute toe tokens for reaching milestones such as 50, 100, and 200 minutes of walking. They proudly display those tokens by attaching them to little chains that hang from their book bags, knapsacks, or coat zippers. A chart in the main hallway displays for students, staff, parents, and visitors exactly how many minutes Pulaski's Panthers have pranced.


Not all schools have a Wellness Committee that produces such active and multi-faceted programs as the ones at Pulaski Elementary, but most schools are doing their part to get out the message that exercise and good nutrition are key to being ready to learn and living healthful lives.

The Pied Piper

When the weather doesn't allow students at Strong (Maine) Elementary School to go out to play, principal Felecia Pease can often be seen marching the halls with a line of students behind her. She is taking the students for a Principal's Walk.

Students pair up and we take a walk around the inside of the school, explained Pease. Part of this walk also involves following the leader and doing what I do. The walk usually ends in the gym with the entire K - 8 student body in a giant circle playing a game of Hokey Pokey.
At Grace Day School in Massapequa, New York, Operation Wellness (OW!) invites students, faculty, and families to participate in cardio-blast exercise workouts, yoga sessions, weekly stretch programs, nutrition lectures, karate, cooking classes, and after-school fitness clubs. Some events are one-time only and others are ongoing. Some tie in to curriculum and others are just for fun.
Larry Anderson, who heads the school, says the newest program is proving to be one of the most popular. Project FAST (Fitness, Agility, Skills, Teamwork) is an after-school program led by an outside vendor who runs similar programs in a number of schools in the region. FAST is actually two programs, one for younger students and another for older students. The programs emphasize healthful and minimally competitive recreational activities. Registration for both programs maxed-out quickly, added Anderson.
Many of our students are two-, three-, or four-sport athletes who have huge after-school practice and competition schedules, notes Anderson. The FAST programming is especially important for those who are more interested in recreational endeavors rather than mega competition, travel teams, and the rest.
A Zumba Dance class, the latest fitness craze, is a pending addition to Graces Operation Wellness offerings, added Anderson.


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