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Vineland Schools Form District Wellness Team

May 22, 2016 | Community News, Community News and Media, Vineland

school wellnessWellness has been on the forefront in Vineland public schools since the Board adopted a wellness policy in 2014.

Now the District has created a District Wellness Team to support the individual schools and to filter information within the district about wellness best practices and opportunities for funding.

Chelsea Welch, field representative for the Vineland Department of Health, is working with the Team. She got involved when she saw that funding opportunities from Sustainable Jersey and other sources were not getting the necessary traction because the District lacked a central “clearing house” to review opportunities and get the word out to the various schools. “The District team brings 17 diverse representatives together to consider the opportunities for grant funding, generate ideas for grants and help to focus and push funding applications forward,” Welch explained. “The goal is to consolidate efforts and focus on grants and programs that are best for the Vineland schools as a whole. The District team also will help individual schools form their own teams to implement wellness policies within the schools.”

The District Team has wide representation including the superintendent and assistant superintendent, middle school and elementary school principals, the Sodexo food services director and the athletic director for the high school, a union representative and an involved citizen, the YMCA, and the Board of Education Accounting department, and Vineland health educator.

Some members of the District Green Team, which focuses on sustaining the environment, will serve on the District Wellness Team to allow for cross-pollination and coordination and allowing the Wellness Team to take part in Sustainable Jersey grants for the schools.

The team met in April and May and new ideas are already taking hold. “A ‘Top Chef”-type food competition at one middle school ignited the Team’s interest. It showed how wellness can take many forms and be a fun activity for kids,” said Welch. Schools also expressed interest in applying for Girls on the Run, a transformational learning program for 8 to 13 year-old girls that teaches life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running.

As part of an ongoing effort to promote healthy eating and exercise to students, Sodexo, the district’s food service provider, donated new bicycles to students from Sabater and Leuchter Elementary Schools and Landis Intermediate School. The donation was linked to both the “healthy foods, healthy kids” initiative and Safe Routes to School, with the goal of encouraging students to spend more time outside and be more active. Helmets were also provided to ensure safe bike use. Future bicycle donations to students at other schools are possible, said Purvesh Patel, food service director for Sodexo and a member of the District Team.

If the initial results are an indication, the District now has a strong, motivated team in place to make the district wellness policy actionable throughout Vineland’s schools.

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