Monday, July 8, 2013

School Wellness in the Bronx

Bronx Health REACH has expended significant amount of energy and effort on school wellness initiatives. These have included the implementation of school wellness policies emphasizing the importance of nutrition education, healthier food offerings, physical activity, and physical education.

To achieve school wellness goals, Bronx Health REACH is working through Healthy Schools NY to change wellness policies in local schools. The Healthy Schools NY program helps schools:
·         Assess their current health and wellness policies in terms of their strengths and weaknesses
·         Develop and improve current school wellness policies that involve nutrition and fitness
·         Establish a School Wellness Council consisting of administrators, staff, students, parents, and community members
·         Develop implementation strategies for communicating and enforcing school wellness policies
·         Share successes, challenges, and experiences with other schools throughout the city

We are encouraging schools to create a personalized wellness policy by filling out a Wellness Policy Template. This template will help each school assess its own wellness environment and understand the changes that may need to take place to improve school wellness. After receiving training and resources, School Wellness Councils can then help create and implement wellness initiatives unique to their respective school.
Many Bronx and New York City schools have been doing outstanding work through their School Wellness Councils. To support their work many schools have applied and received funding from the Department of Education’s School Wellness Council Grant program. Recently, on June 6th, the outstanding work of these schools was publicly acknowledged with their receipt of the Excellence in School Wellness Awards.  The Award is part of a collaborative effort with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a number of community based health advocates to acknowledge the actions of many schools to make their schools a place of wellness.

Congratulations to all the schools who received awards.  As you can imagine, we are especially proud of our Bronx school recipients.



On June 6th, at the Excellence in School Wellness Awards Ceremony, NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, MD stands with representatives from the schools  who won awards.
Listed below are all the Bronx winners!

·       Gold Award: Mott Haven Academy Charter School, PS 23 The New Children's School, PS 28X Mount Hope Centennial School, PS 443 The Family School, PS 457 The Sheridan Academy for Young Leaders, PS 55 The Benjamin Franklin School, PS 69 Journey Prep, PS 85 Great Expectations, PS/MS 218 Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School, Success Academy Charter School Bronx 2

·        Silver Award: CS 61 The Francisco Oller School, PS 114X Luis Llorens Torres Children's Academy, PS 205 Fiorello LaGuardia, PS/MS 95 The Sheila Mencher Van Cortlandt School

·        Bronze Award: PS 1 Courtlandt School, PS 36 The Rising Stars School, PS 555 Mount Eden Children's Academy, PS 94 Kings College School

·         Honorable Mention: PS 64 Pura Belpre Elementary School

PS/MS 218 students entered the School Wellness Contest for the citywide school calendar.

At JHS 145’s Garden to CafĂ© Harvest event, students enjoyed bok choy and radishes prepared by DOE Office of School Food Bronx Regional Chef Deb Cahill and NYC Office of School Food Executive Chef Jorge Collazo.
 
Lourdes Rodriguez and Donna Orr from Health Opportunities High School pose with the Super Sprowtz carrot! Super Sprowtz uses media to educate children on nutrition, wellness, and the environment.
To learn more about current school wellness initiatives and ways that your school can benefit from wellness programs, here are some resources:

·      Learn more about what Excellence in School Wellness Gold Award schools such as Bedford-Stuyvesant’s PS 54 have been doing to improve health and wellness. The District Public Health Offices in NYC are working on an Excellence in School Wellness Award Resource Guide and will disseminate it to schools during the summer. Please note that the Excellence in School Wellness Awards criteria will be revised for the 2013-2014 school year.

·      The Office of School Wellness is working on creating a portal where schools can track their progress on the School Wellness Scorecard. Visit their website to learn about the School Wellness Council Grant program and create a personalized School Action Plan.

·      Through the funding from the Whole Kids Foundation, FoodFight is offering Teacher Wellness Workshops to public schools in New York City.  This program is FREE—but only for a limited time. Sign up now while the program is still being funded! 

Bronx Health REACH’s efforts to support school wellness programs will now be supplemented through a partnership with the National REACH Coalition. Through this initiative, we hope to engage NYC school principals, teachers, nurses, and parent coordinators in promoting wellness and nutrition education efforts in their schools.

For more information about Bronx Health REACH’s school wellness program efforts, please contact Kelly Moltzen at kmoltzen@institute2000.org or 212-633-0800 x 1328.

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