ST. JOHNSBURY – St. Johnsbury School’s swim and gym after-school program, created by its Healthy Schools Team, started with 63 students and is expected to grow to as many as 300 students by the end of 2013. The program was initially offered as a pilot program for 5th graders, but students talk to each other and, by popular demand, the school now offers the program to all students in grades 1-8.
The school’s efforts to promote and expand physical activity programs is a key reason the school won the 2013 Most Improved Vermont Department of Health School Wellness Award of $5,000. The school also implemented a “Fitness Gram” that assesses every student’s health, and strengthened connections with local farmers, which resulted in nearly triple the amount of locally grown produce purchased by the school’s food service.
"The Healthy Schools Team wanted all of our students to be able to access opportunities to exercise and have fun in an after-school physical activity program, independent of cost," said Stephanie Rowe, R.N., who believes that students who start exercise programs when they are young have a better chance of exercising throughout their lives. “We sat down and talked with officials at St. Johnsbury Academy, a private school nearby, which owns and operates the facilities, and they were very supportive. It has been a wonderful collaboration.”
The awards are given by the Health Department in partnership with the Agency of Education, New England Dairy and Food Council and the Vermont Health Education Initiative.
Twinfield Union School in Marshfield won one of three Gold wellness awards ($3,000), which will fund equipment such as skates and ski boots, and help move forward plans for a hiking and fitness trail bordering the woods. While taking first in the high school category, Twinfield (K-12) applied for and placed well in all three categories (high school, middle school, elementary school), demonstrating a strong commitment to student and staff wellness.
“Parents, students, staff and the entire community have a shared vision of providing more opportunities to be active and get outside,” said Alice Day, RN, the school nurse. “Next month, for example, we have a bike rodeo during the school day where they can earn a license and learn about safety.”
2013 School Wellness Award Winners:
Most Improved ($5,000) – St. Johnsbury School
Gold ($3,000) – Northwest Primary School (Rutland)
Silver ($2,000) – St. Albans City School
Bronze ($1,000) - JFK Elementary (Winooski)
Gold ($3,000) – Edmunds Middle School (Burlington)
Silver ($2,000) – Coventry Village School
Bronze ($1,000) – Milton Herrick Ave. School (Milton)
Gold ($3,000) – Twinfield Union School (Marshfield)
Silver ($2,000) – Burlington High School
Bronze ($1,000) – Montpelier High School
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