By Brittany Wright, HSC media + outreach specialist
Last week, we wrote about how the Nathanael Greene Elementary parent wellness team organized a community health fair. I was fortunate to tag along with Jovita Flores, manager of HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools coalition, to sit in on a wellness team meeting at Greene school focused on the results of the fair. The parent-driven wellness team created the event to spotlight health resources and demonstrate community support for healthy school food and fitness. The event also created opportunities for more parents to learn about and get involved with the school’s wellness efforts.
Greene Elementary wellness team meeting with parents and principal Michael Heidkamp
Parents at the meeting beamed when sharing the high points of the event: student physical activity demonstrations, health testing and screening, and smoothie workshops! Parent leaders said they were happy to have so many families participate and that they are looking forward to replicating the evening’s success as they get started on the next event!
Wellness teams can connect parents and school administrators through the shared goal of promoting student health. Principal Michael Heidkamp regularly participates in wellness team meetings. He explained that parent leadership has been key in prioritizing school wellness at Greene.
“I think it’s nice to have a strong group of parents that are constantly reminding you that their child’s experience is so much more than [testing],” he said. “They’ve been integral in expanding all that we do.”
Greene Elementary wellness team meeting
The principal encourages parent wellness leaders to share resources with others in the school to garner support for their efforts. Heidkamp recommends sending surveys and communication in newsletters to share ideas and initiatives. He suggested that the team “build your group and your committee based on the roll-out of those different resources to get your name and mission out there. That is a very powerful way to attract other parents.” At the meeting, parents discussed communication tools and updates they developed to include in the school newsletter that goes home with all students.
The wellness team also discussed classroom celebrations. “If we’re going to make changes in regards to what parents can bring to celebrate kids’ birthdays, it’s not going to be cupcakes anymore, it’s going to be healthy alternatives,” said Heidkamp. “It’s important that parents are speaking to other parents about that, not just administrators. It’s a decision by the community for the community, that’s the most powerful way I’ve found to frame those decisions. Then it’s much more about this is why and this is the change that I’m making with my child and that you can make with your child.”
Kudos to the Greene wellness team! Keep up the great work promoting health and wellness.