Source: NJ HealthyKids.org
April 24-28 marks the fifth year of celebration for Every Kid Healthy Week (EKHW). The goal is to bring both awareness and recognition to schools across the nation who are dedicating time to improving health and wellness and cultivating the school environment.
Good health is vital, and all children should have access to healthy meals both at home and school. Also, physical activity is equally important. Many of the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids communities have had great success in revising school wellness policies and working with school officials on implementation.
Below are just some of the successes we’ve had in creating an overall Culture of Health within many New Jersey schools:
1. Food access – Fresh produce and healthy options are slowly working their way into schools, nationwide. Junk food and foods high in sugar and fat cause more harm to the health and alertness of students. Get Healthy Camden aided the implementing of Breakfast in the Classroom, providing students with a healthy breakfast before school begins.
2. Safer environments – In Vineland, about six percent of students walk to school. NJPHK – Vineland collaborated with the local schools and the Vineland Health Department to implement a Safe Routes to School initiative. Through this collaboration, students now have improved sidewalks, bike paths, walking school buses and other initiatives to increase foot traffic. A safe environment relaxes a parent’s nerves and promotes more physical activity during and after school.
3. Physical activity – Physical fitness is critical for children at school. Novo Nordisk and NJPHK – Trenton teamed up to create a wellness room, salad bar and nutrition education for the students at Joyce Kilmer Middle School. Since 2013, NJPHK – New Brunswick also have hosted an event called Ciclovia, where city residents of every age are encouraged to get outside and be physically active.
4. Healthy Eating & Physical Activity Policies – Students should be educated on healthy foods and physical activity at an early age. NJPHK – Newark launched the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program in nine public preschools. The CATCH program is the first of its kind to target pre-school children in Newark by teaching them the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
Initiatives like these are progressive and create environmental changes that support overall student health. Every Kid Healthy Week encourages schools to plan an event promoting health, nutrition, and physical education. For more information, please visit EveryKidHealthyWeek.org.