by Darrin Anderson, Sr., PhD, MS State Deputy Director, New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids
April 24-28 marks the fifth year of celebration for Every Kid Healthy Week (EKHW). The goal is to bring both awareness and recognition to schools across the nation who are dedicating time to improving health and wellness and cultivating the school environment.
As a father who is committed to the health and well-being of my son and daughter, I believe good health is vital, and all children should have access to healthy meals both at home and school. I also think physical activity is equally important. Many of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids communities have had great success in revising school wellness policies and working with school officials on implementation.
Below are just some of the successes we’ve had in creating an overall Culture of Health within many New Jersey schools:
Safer environments – In Vineland, about six percent of students walk to school. NJPHK – Vineland collaborated with the local schools and the Vineland Health Department to implement a Safe Routes to School initiative. Through this collaboration, students now have improved sidewalks, bike paths, walking school buses and other initiatives to increase foot traffic. A safe environment relaxes a parent’s nerves and promotes more physical activity during and after school.
Physical activity – Physical fitness is critical for children at school. Novo Nordisk and NJPHK – Trenton teamed up to create a wellness room, salad bar and nutrition education for the students at Joyce Kilmer Middle School. Since 2013, NJPHK – New Brunswick also have hosted an event called Ciclovia, where city residents of every age are encouraged to get outside and be physically active.
Initiatives like these are progressive and create environmental changes that support overall student health. Every Kid Healthy Week encourages schools to plan an event promoting health, nutrition, and physical education. For more information about how you can plan an event or get involved, please visit www.everykidhealthyweek.org.