Your summer was spent eating nutritious food and embracing the fresh air with an array of outdoor recreational adventures. Now that school is in session, are you concerned your child’s healthful habits will go down the drain with cooped up classrooms and many sweet treat rewards? Not necessarily!
As a parent of a school-aged child, you are a powerful influence on the school environment. Your family is part of the fabric that makes up the school community and you do have a voice. The question is – how can your voice lead to positive change? How can you communicate that health and wellness is not just an activity, but a way of life?
Acknowledge the school’s health and wellness strengths.
For example, email or verbally say to the principal or superintendent, “I’m pleased that recess continues to be an integral part of the curriculum,” or, “Thank you for serving fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria.” The administration needs to hear how parents value health and wellness. Review the Let’s Move in School program and suggest ideas to get kids up and moving.
Identify your health and wellness allies.
A great place to start is the school nurse, P.E. and health teachers; however, health and wellness gurus can be found in any department, such as a teacher or paraprofessional.
Choose a formal forum for your voice.
Join the PTA/PTO or School Advisory Committee to influence and steer decision making to keep health and wellness initiatives top of mind. For example, suggest a walk-a-thon for an activity-based school fundraiser.
Use the power in numbers theory to your advantage.
Recommend forming a School Wellness Council or participating in a formal program such as the Healthier US School Challenge. Be prepared to be the first one to volunteer to serve, then rally your health and wellness advocates to join so they can put their passion into practice.
Connect health and wellness to education.
Whether talking to educators or fellow parents, identify the common goal of academic success. Point out that a healthy student will learn better.
Recognize educators have a myriad of expectations. Most educators value health and wellness. Your support and patience will go a long way in creating sustainable positive change.
How do you encourage health and wellness initiatives at your child’s school?
Andrea Williamson-English is a member of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) and is a Georgia school nurse with a passion for health and wellness. Her mission is to educate students, families and educators to achieve optimal health as a foundation to academic excellence. Andrea currently serves as a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s National Champion’s Network. Thanks to her efforts, Chestnut Mountain Creative School of Inquiry has received national recognition by the Alliance and state recognition with the Healthy Halls Award by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is the co-author of Million Dollar Mom and has been recognized as the Hall County School Nurse of the Year.