Search This Blog

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Vision For Wellness and Education

A major job for school boards is to make policies that  guide school operations. Most policies are developed by The State School Board Association and then modified by the board. Sometimes the administration will develop a policy when they'd like for the schools to be operated differently. It's a cardinal sin to ignore a policy.

We are evaluating a school wellness policy (click here to see what the administration proposed (in red) and what is recommended by the state (black)).  I was less than enthusiastic with the proposed policy. It appeared to take out what little bit of fun was still left in school. No more student fund raisers selling "World's Best Chocolate". No more food parties. No more candy rewards. No more pizza or fried chicken for lunch......when you consider barely half our students eat lunch and over 60% of the citizens admit getting no exercise - why should we adopt  a policy that is going to irritate students, parents, and teachers?

Shortly after our first discussion, I heard Dr. Martha Edwards, our representative to the Mom Conference in Washington, speak at The Number One Question Meeting. Dr. Edwards talked about having a wellness policy that was more than just food. She gave examples  of schools that purchased heart rate monitors and taught students the importance of aerobic exercise - about schools that sponsored community gardens to educate students (and the community) on the importance of proper nutrition.

I was familiar with schools that managed similar projects. High Tech High  engages students with projects - projects that have them doing design, funding, and management. One of their projects was to install a community garden. Their program utilizes a  gardening component.

So, let me plant a seed. I'm no visionary, most of what I'm going to say has been stolen from programs already in place (such as High Tech High). First, let's make sure this is student led. Second, let's find a location:
There is substantial land adjacent to our Applied Technology Center that is being unused and already has an irrigation system. It is surrounded by neighborhoods which could become community partners.

Third, did I mention it is adjacent to the Applied Technology Center?
ATC has two  greenhouses and an agriculture program. Clemson University has programs that could  help fund a year-round project. There are also other skill sets that would/could be utilized from ATC.

Now that we have a place and some available resources, let me lay out the vision. Our high school International Baccalaureate students must contribute community service hours each year. This could be a collective district project. The IB students would be the project managers, providing organization support and finding resources to fund the initiative (grants, partnerships).

ATC students would provide design and construction skills.They could build an "outdoor" kitchen to allow culinary art students  have cooking demonstrations (with garden produce). Video production students could produce and stream the show over the internet. Medical tech students could run a fitness program (body fat, blood pressure etc.) and utilize the athletic facilities adjacent to the grounds.

Each district school could be given a plot. There could be contests for biggest; pumpkin; watermelon; or tomato. They could run seed and plant trials. They could partner with seed companies, to test new varieties for our area - they could have flower gardens - maybe even an "All-American" test plot. Not to mention partnerships with garden clubs, master gardeners, and senior citizens. Their research would provide valuable information to the community.

Students would learn health, medicine, technology, science, math, botany, biology, and management skills. Maybe the next Food Network Star would be from the program.

We have an infrastructure and land  in place. The skills are available. What we lack is the engagement. Will the Rock Hill School Board (of which I am a member) plant the first seed? Do we have  Leadership in place to help the seed grow? Are the High Tech High Students that much superior to ours? (I'll answer this one - they are not).

Click here for a link to the video.

No comments:

Blog Archive


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon