Starting A School Health & Wellness Committee: 6 Easy StepsTue 24 Jan 2012
Story by Kim Gerber
From the JOFF team: Kim Gerber is a long-time Food Revolutionary and one of our Food Revolution Heroes, we are delighted to have her as an ally and hope that her 6 steps to starting a meaningful Health & Wellness Committee will help you to make positive changes to student health in your local school.
January Testimonial: Kim Gerber
Kids and health. Two words that should be synonymous, right? Should be, but unfortunately they’re often not. Health and Wellness begins at home. Good food, proper sleep, warmth and safety are crucial to the health and wellness of a child. But what happens when our children are out of our care?
Children spend approximately 7 hours per day on average at school. Out of their waking 12 – 14 hours, one-half of their day is spent in the care of their school. But is health and wellness at school up to par? It seems that everywhere we look there are new articles and stories about physical education classes being cut, school food not being up to par, and children’s health not being made a priority. It has become easy to sit back and wag a finger at the school districts - “They’re” not doing enough. But we as parents have the responsibility to advocate for the health of our children. It’s time to bring parent organized Health & Wellness committees to every school. How do we do that? With my six easy steps.
Step 1: Start a Conversation
By starting a conversation with other parents, we’ll be able to find others interested in improving the health and wellness of the school. It’s the trickledown theory: find one person, who will find another, who will find another….you get the picture.
Step 2: Involve the principal and the Parent Faculty Association
The strong voice of a parent group can open doors. To keep the doors open, we’ll need the support of the school. Obtaining the support of the school doesn’t need to be challenging. The key is to present a well-thought out plan in a respectful way to the principal and parent faculty association. After all, we are all working toward the same goal – the health and wellness of our children.
Step 3: Build a Committee
With the support of the school behind us, we can now gather parents to become involved in our official school Health & Wellness committee. Ways to accomplish this: Present the committee at PTA meetings and take signups, send a flyer home to parents, send a class/school wide email or engage parents in conversation and get their commitment. Making the Health & Wellness Committee important to every parent will ultimately build a strong and powerful committee.
Step 4: Select Goals
Now that we have our committee in place, we’ll need to figure out what our short and long term goals are. Do we want to get flavored milk out of our lunch room? Eliminate processed/sugary snacks for birthdays? Start a school garden? In order to keep our Health & Wellness Committee focused and respected, we must organize our goals and methodically work towards them.
Step 5: Create a presence
With the support of our Parent Faculty Association and administration, we can begin to create a presence within the school. By simply requesting to be a part of a larger school event (such as we did with our annual Fall Carnival pictured above), we can begin to gather support and momentum within the school community. Something as simple as a request from the Parent Faculty Association for a booth and a banner can give our committee the legitimacy it needs to get other parents involved and interested.
Step 6: Bring about Change
A Health & Wellness Committee is just that: a committee. With the strength and support of each member, we can accomplish amazing things. Slow and steady, change does not need to be immediate – it just needs to stick. Whether it be one change or many, know that each change matters and that we are creating a chance at a healthier life for our children one change at a time.
Kids and health. Health and schools. Schools and Wellness. We can make all these words synonymous simply by starting a conversation. I challenge you all to start a conversation at your school in 2012 and know that you can make a difference.
About the author: Kim Gerber is the creator and chairperson of the first Health and Wellness committee at her children’s Los Angeles school. She is also a proud wife, mom, children’s nutrition advocate and author of www.outoftheboxfood.com, a website dedicated to deconstructing processed kid food and offering fresh alternatives to families.
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