You will often hear educators talk about the importance of prioritizing the needs of the whole child. As a school system, our goal is to prepare students to succeed in a global community, but to do this we must focus not only on students’ academic development, but also on their physical, mental and social-emotional development. .
Whitfield County Schools understands the role our teachers and staff play in the health of our children, but we don’t just want to talk about healthy living, we want our students and staff to lead healthy lives. and encourage their families and communities to do the same.
The District Wellness Program, an initiative to improve and promote health and fitness, is led by the Whitfield County School Nutrition Department. Angie Brown, director of School Nutrition, thought the wellness program was a great way to “talk about the importance of physical fitness, emotional well-being and a healthy lifestyle,” but said that the school system “needed something that really showed students and staff what they could do to improve their overall health,” which is how One Whitfield Wellness Week was born. Since 2018, schools of Whitfield County dedicate one week of the year to the education and practice of healthy living, with the hope that students and staff will adopt these practices and continue to lead happier, healthier lives .
Lyn Douglas, a physical education teacher at Valley Point Elementary, knows it’s important for students to “learn about different aspects of health” and hopes students become aware of healthy decisions, habits and behaviors in general. Douglas, who is also a member of the district wellness committee, thinks students are more willing to be active, drink water or try new foods because “they enjoy what is taught in school” and when schools participate in Wellness Week, “behaviours are promoted and reinforced.
This year, the district-wide One Whitfield Wellness Week: A New You in 2022 was held March 7-11. The themes – Moving Monday, TACO Tuesday, Water Wednesday, Thinking Thursday and Fitness Friday – all focus on different aspects of health and wellness.
Chad Ikerd, a teacher at Southeast Whitfield High School, created wellness week infographics that went with each day’s theme and shared them with his school.
“I think with this generation of kids, especially younger kids, the majority of the physical activity they do is in school,” Ikerd said. “A lot of them go home and watch TV or play video games, so we really have to enjoy the time we have with them.”
His infographics encouraged his school to do simple things like walk 10,000 steps a day or drink more water. Ikerd wanted students to understand “it’s not super complex to live a fairly healthy life.” Kara Allen’s class in Southeast Whitfield promoted Wellness Week by drawing their favorite fitness activities in chalk on the sidewalks outside the school. Chris Fore, a ninth grader in Allen’s class, drew a football and a basketball, while another Allen student, Jameson Stepp, a tenth grader, drew a track runner . Participating in Wellness Week was important to Allen because “a lot of our students get stuck in the same routine every day, so we try to break that down and help them stay active and engaged.”
On the Monday of the move, students and staff were instructed to get up from their seats and keep their bodies active. For staff, activities such as taking the stairs when possible or parking further away from their buildings were encouraged. In-class physical activity breaks have also been recommended to help improve student achievement and brain health so they can return to their studies ready to focus.
Eboni Hernandez, a sixth form pupil at North Whitfield Middle, said she sat “most of the day” and even when she got home she “sat in her room”. During Wellness Week, her school participated in a variety of activities, including walks around the school and Edwards Park. “I don’t really go out much, so I enjoyed taking our walks this week.”
Some teachers have chosen to combine physical activity with their lessons. Students at New Hope Elementary had fun learning their multiplication facts by playing a game called “Multiplication Movement”. The students ran to one side of the basketball court to get their multiplication equation, then to the other side to find the answer.
On TACO Tuesday, students and staff were encouraged to ‘talk’ about making healthy choices, ‘ask’ for their favorite vegetables, ‘eat’ more fruit throughout the day, and ‘offer’ help their friends make healthy choices. Whitfield County School Nutrition “created quite a buzz,” Douglas said, when all cafeterias added kumquats and mangoes to Tuesday’s lunch menu to introduce new fruits to students.
“We love giving students the opportunity to try new things,” said Kelsey Blevins, School Nutrition Coordinator and Wellness Committee Chair. “Judging by their faces after trying them, we think the students had mixed feelings about the tiny citrus fruits.”
Ananiah Roby, a third-grade student at Beaverdale Elementary, actually enjoyed trying a new fruit and said she “loved it” while classmate Helena McPheeters said it was “a bit sour” and that she preferred other fruits like watermelon and kiwi. Their teacher, Miranda Bucker, was just happy that her students were willing to try them.
“Everyone who lined up for lunch on Tuesday had to get a fruit and a vegetable, whether they liked it or not, and at least try it,” Bucker said. “I don’t know if they’ll find them again, but they branched out, tried something new and I’m proud of them for that.”
On Wednesday, students and staff were challenged to drink the recommended 64 ounces of water during the day. To encourage this, School Nutrition provided bottled water to all students and staff who ate in the cafeterias.
Health Professions of America (HOSA) students at Northwest Georgia College and the Career Academy have determined Wellness Week events for their school and have chosen to distribute fruit infused water on Wednesday of the year. ‘water.
“Even if you don’t like to drink water, you can add fruit and make it more interesting and healthy,” said 10th grader and HOSA student Octavia Woodward.
Thursday focused on mental and emotional health, with many schools and government buildings opting to participate in mindfulness activities, such as breathing exercises, quiet time, nature walks and positive affirmations. Some schools have also used Thursday’s theme to remind students to practice good hygiene, get enough rest and make healthy lifestyle choices.
According to Tracie Simmons, Whitfield County Schools Senior Social Worker, “Many more of our children are suffering from anxiety due to COVID-19 and the current instability in the world.” Physical fitness is very important, but often mental health and general self-care are put on the back burner. Thinking Thursday is an “important reminder to adults to take care of themselves,” Simmons said, “so that our children can grow up knowing its importance.”
Staff at Whitfield County Schools Administration Buildings have chosen activities to calm their minds and bodies for Thinking Thursday. The operations department let off steam blowing bubbles outdoors, while Whitfield County Central Office staff spent time away from their computer screens taking part in a yoga class taught by Laura Lagania , teacher at Eastbrook Middle and certified yoga instructor.
Similar to Moving Monday, Fitness Friday encouraged exercise and fitness, with many schools leading the entire student body in group fitness activity. Students and staff at Cedar Ridge Elementary School roamed their school’s campus and Cohutta Elementary School asked everyone to dress up in their 80s attire for a school-wide dance party. school.
There were even a few staff members who chose to sweat it out on Fitness Friday, thanks to Tim Marks, the owner of United Karate Studios. Marks gave two free kickboxing classes for staff, one during the work day at the Career Academy and another in the evening where staff from all schools could participate.
Every year it seems like Wellness Week gets bigger and better, but the goal always remains the same: to encourage our students, staff, families and community to live healthier and happier lives. . This year’s One Whitfield Wellness Week “has been the best yet,” Brown said. “It made me smile to see all the activities that students and staff were not just participating in, but really enjoying. Even though students are learning a healthy habit by participating in Wellness Week, we We achieved our goal.”