Non Standard Leadership Techniques

Orlando Schools Hope to Encourage Healthier Students This School Year

Patricia Hawke asked:

The Orlando schools will be promoting health and wellness to its students this year. As part of the Orange County Schools, the Orlando schools will implement a new wellness policy that was just approved this month.

The new policy is in response to a federal mandate, under the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. All schools that receive federal funding for school lunch programs must have a wellness policy in place.

The wellness program for the Orlando schools is designed to promote better health to their students. Healthy eating and physical activity will play a big part in the Orlando schools’ policy. The hope is to completely change the Orlando schools’ environments to healthier ones.

With the new wellness program effective on the first day of school, each of the Orlando schools is challenged to be creative and innovative in implementing wellness activities and promotions.

Each of the Orlando schools will create a Healthy School Team (HST). The organization of each team is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coordinated School Health Model. There will be a member on each HST to represent each of the following areas of health:

• Health education,

• Counseling.

• Psychological and social services,

• School health services,

• Nutrition services,

• Physical education,

• The healthy school environment,

• Health promotion for Orlando schools’ staff, and

• Family and community.

Under the belief that healthy children is a community-wide concern, each of the Orlando schools will enlist the involvement of parents, families, teachers, counselors, school administrators, healthcare professionals, businesses, and community groups and organizations.

The Orange County schools already have experimented with the wellness program, which will benefit the Orlando schools. For almost three years, the program has been used in 13 schools within the county. The HSTs have been found to be quite effective in promoting health and wellness, not only for the students but their families and school staff, as well. The Orlando schools will use much of the information and experiences from these schools, when implementing their own wellness program this year.

The experimental HSTs have sponsored walking and running clubs for students, school staff, and parents. Another example of creative thinking by the HSTs is “wellness Wednesdays”, whereby students are rewarded for being involved in healthy activities, such as eating nutritious lunches, drinking water versus soda, or participating in a physical activity. Each HST at the Orlando schools will be charged with developing activities that meet the specific needs of each school and its students. The HST members are limited only by their own imaginations to develop creative promotions, events and activities.

The new wellness program at the Orlando schools is all about health and wellness for children, and helping everyone concerned to understand the importance of good health and its effect upon a child’s ability to learn. From the federal mandate to the Orlando schools’ implementation of the wellness program, the sole purpose is to improve the health of students in order for them to be better able to learn and achieve — now and in the future.

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