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Articles: Health & Wellness

Tom Wohlleber, assistant superintendent for business services for Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, leads a safety session with administrators and teachers.

A “culture of safety”—at all levels of a district—is the first and most critical step in dealing with occupational injury. It also guides the prevention of, response to and mitigation of hazards in the workplace, including staff behavior.

Students who have lived through tragedy—from Newtown, Connecticut, to Joplin, Missouri—have found comfort in a source not often seen in schools: golden retrievers.

From sports to exercise routines, the latest programs and activities in physical education aim to get students motivated and excited about being fit.

Fitness monitors and other new technology allow teachers, parents and students to track progress or stream fitness videos to mobile devices. These programs offer the flexibility to work out inside or outdoors.

Adventure to Fitness

Adventure to Fitness

La Habra City School District Superintendent Susan Belenardo has made fitness a priority.

California’s La Habra City School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Susan Belenardo, motivates its students to get up and moving with several wellness programs that are part of a countywide health and obesity prevention initiative.

The athletic trainer at Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas, helps players on the field during the football team’s opening game. (Photo: Renee Fernandes/NATA)

A student athlete with a concussion doesn’t face challenges only in returning to play. Their injury also can hinder their performance in the classroom, and administrators must make sure students who need rest or have to work more slowly are able to keep up with schoolwork during recovery.

Lawrence Public Schools is the first district in Kansas to adopt federal sex education standards that go beyond what’s required by the state.

Kansas requires all schools to teach some form of human sexuality and HIV awareness, but doesn’t stipulate a curriculum. The Lawrence school board voted last year to adopt the national standards, which provide a more detailed framework for age-appropriate sex education in K12, says Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the school board.

Forty high school students from Tennessee and Kentucky spent their summer growing healthy food for themselves and the poor and homeless in their community.

The students were from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District in Tennessee and Fort Campbell Schools in neighboring Kentucky.

They planted, cultivated and harvested various fruits and vegetables in a community garden, and sold them at a local market to raise funds for area hunger-relief organizations.

New federal rules  cap the amount of fat, sodium, sugar and calories in food available in schools.

As of July 1, students will have a harder time getting their hands on junk food in public schools, as stricter standards raise the nutritional value of what’s available in cafeterias, campus stores, snack bars and vending machines.

The town of Hopkinton, Mass., has served as the starting point for Boston Marathon since 1924. Now, Hopkinton Middle School is incorporating the town’s historical connection with the iconic race into a new curriculum called “Desire to Inspire.”

“From the early preparations in March to the event in April, every year our community and our students become very enthusiastic about the marathon,” says Debra Pinto, a Hopkinton Middle School physical education teacher.

Superintendent Samuel DePaul exercises with third graders at Colquitt Elementary Schools in Georgia.

Third-grade students from five Colquitt Elementary Schools are doing something different with their PE class.

Thanks to the “Action Packed Family” program made possible by a grant, these kids are learning how to fight obesity by eating healthy and being active at home. The $2.5 million, five-year grant was given by the University of Georgia to its School of Public Health, to study childhood obesity.

One in five students starts school before 7:30 a.m., and many get on the bus before the sun rises.

The national fight for later high school start times is gaining traction, as districts and activists join together to push for new policies that will allow students to get more rest.

Reports of districts eliminating school nurses or replacing them with unlicensed staffers are increasing nationwide, and student health care is suffering as a result, nursing advocates say. Among nurses’ responsibilities is caring for the estimated 3 million children with food allergies—a number representing an 18 percent increase from 1997 to 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control—and the 7.1 million children with asthma.

West Virginia educators now have access to an updated oral health curriculum for students, as written by the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources and Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health this past summer.

After years of torment from bullies, 15-year-old Bart Palosz of Greenwich, Conn., took his own life on the first day of school in September. His death has led many to question the effectiveness of district bullying policies, and whether or not school leaders are responsible for identifying students who may harm themselves.

School lunches are at the front lines of the country’s childhood obesity and nutrition crisis. First Lady Michelle Obama, star chef Jamie Oliver and the “Renegade Lunch Lady” activist Ann Cooper have helped draw the public interest to the problems in school cafeterias.

Since 2009, I have worked with The Culinary Institute of America’s Menu for Healthy Kids initiative. We have provided school districts in New York’s Hudson Valley with tools to improve the food served to students.

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