Q. Now that school has begun, I want to do more to make my son’s school a healthier place. Every year, I see more children who are overweight. Some teachers and parents are interested in making change, but the principal is indifferent. What can I do?

A. Parents often ask me how to create a wellness movement in their school.  As my daughter begins a new school this year, I find myself wondering the same thing. Leaving behind a school that has achieved notoriety as a ‘healthy girl on swing in school playgroundschool,’ it is quite a surprise to be confronted with donuts and candy all over again, nine years later.

As I struggle to remember our steps to a healthy school, so many years ago, I remember one key piece of information: I don’t want to delay. Creating a movement begins with baby steps. Therefore, I am committing to getting started with these four easy steps. I hope you will join me. Together, I believe we can create healthy schools across Colorado.

 

Step 1: Find one person who shares your passion

A School Wellness Team is ideally made up of a diverse team of parents, staff and community partners around a common goal. However, in the early days of creating a movement, a ‘team’ may be simply you and one other person. Having someone to share the work with will energize the process. One teammate is all you need to get started.  Others will soon join.

Step 2: Engage your principal

Is your principal on board with you?  Before moving too far along, request a meeting with the principal and ask for suggestions on best ways to proceed.  Look to the principal to be your advisor and let him/her know you are interested in supporting academic achievement.  Make the connection to student wellness and academic achievement in your conversation.  Be sure to mention that healthier children are better learners, and back it up with some research if you can. Start with this EdNews Parent story. Even better? Bring the principal a healthy lunch or breakfast.

Step 3: Connect to resources

In Colorado, we are fortunate to have abundant resources to support school wellness. Here are a few organizations available to assist you:

Step 4: Schedule your first Wellness Committee meeting

Scheduling your first wellness meeting is the beginning of great things. Be sure to hold the meeting at a time and place when the parents are able to attend.  Make it attractive by offering healthy snacks, childcare and or translation services if needed.  Create and open and inviting atmosphere where all ideas are valued.  The meeting will evolve and reveal your next four steps.

Let’s meet back here next month to share our successes and I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Meantime, to your health!

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.