Physical and nutritional fitness are in the media spotlight, and for good reason. Both help fight against obesity. As important as they are to adolescents' health, so too are social and emotional fitness. When combined, all four areas of fitness (physical, nutritional, social, and emotional) are necessary for the optimal wellness that leads to living enjoyable, fulfilling lives. I suggest using literacy as a catalyst for moving toward optimal wellness and offer these five suggestions:
National Health Education Week 2012 kicks off today! This year's celebration looks to promote and establish healthy behavior among U.S. youth through the theme, "Adolescent Health: Planting Seeds for a Healthier Generation." As part of the awareness week, whole child partner the Society for Public Health Education will offer free resources to professionals who work with kids in schools and communities on the following themes.
Post written by Howard Adelman, PhD, and Linda Taylor, PhD, codirectors of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools. This post was originally featured on the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute blog, The Intersection.
When policymakers introduce another initiative for education reform, the press to implement the new initiative often draws attention away from other essential facets involved in improving and transforming schools. Currently, this is happening with the Common Core State Standards movement.
Efforts to revamp schools cannot afford to marginalize any primary and essential facet of what must take place at schools every day. As those who have followed the work of the Center for Mental Health in Schools know, we are moving efforts to improve schools from a two- to a three-component framework (PDF).
Ontario School Tests Effects of a Later Start Time: Students at a Toronto, Ontario, school are earning better grades, coming to school more often, and getting more sleep since the school pushed its start time to 10:00 a.m. The school began starting school at 10:00 a.m. in 2009—later than the previous 9:00 a.m. start—in response to research showing that teenagers are predisposed to waking up later. Educators say they are encouraged by learning gains and improvements in students' well-being. (ASCD Worldwide SmartBrief, 4/28)
Educators See Advantages of Structured Recess for Students: Organized recess improves students' participation, behavior, and focus in the classroom, according to a nationwide survey conducted by California nonprofit Playworks. The structured playtime involves organized activities that promote nonviolent themes, such as games of tag that involve tapping fingers rather than slapping. Educators in Philadelphia, where 83 schools have structured recess, say the Playworks program gives students a positive outlet for excess energy.
Schools Vary in Approaches to Healthy Meals: California school districts approach healthy lunches for students in different ways, depending on the cost of the program, income levels, and foods common to the culture, according to this article. Orinda Intermediate School offers organic vegetables, jasmine rice, and Jamba Juice for its students with sophisticated palates, while West Oakland Middle School is working to use less meat, more whole grains, and scratch cooking but has seen some resistance from students.
San Francisco Schools Make It Easier for Students to Grab Breakfast: Schools in San Francisco are using a federal grant to expand "grab-and-go" breakfast programs that allow students to quickly pick up healthy foods, including fruit and cereal, as they head to class. Data found that many California children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, but few take advantage of breakfast because the meals are served in the cafeteria and the students are often short on time.
Becoming A Man (B.A.M.):Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man program, or B.A.M., which is currently offered at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Ill., is an evidence-based violence prevention and mentoring program that nurtures and develops social, emotional, and behavioral skills in young male students considered to be "at-risk" and vulnerable to gang violence. Watch a video about B.A.M. to learn more about the educational enrichment the program provides.
Health and Nutrition Teacher Resources: View up to five free lesson plans and classroom activities that teach a variety of health and nutrition topics for K–12 students, available in printer-friendly formats at TeacherVision.com. Many lessons are designed to be integrated into core subjects and engage learners.
Vote for the Best Healthy School Lunch Recipes: A website lets users vote through May 15, 2011, for the best school lunch recipes from the USDA's Healthy Kids competition. Schools, chefs, and students were challenged to come up with healthy recipes that meet nutrition standards in the categories of whole grains, dry beans and peas, and dark green and orange vegetables.
Let's Move in School's National Physical Education and Sport Week:Register your school to host a Let's Move in School (LMIS) celebration during National Physical Education and Sport Week (May 1–7). Schools that register by March 28, 2011, will have a chance to win a visit from a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The first 10,000 schools to register will receive a LMIS poster.
Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.
In rethinking how to approach the study hall period, Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill., devised the "option period," which allows students to choose between working in a study hall, the library, the computer lab, a writing center, or a common area sitting against their lockers, or conferring with a dean or counselor. The choices "allow students to have freedom" within the confines of the building, say school officials. The option period also fosters independence among students and builds trust between students and staff.
Learn about other innovative ideas and how they have been implemented in ASCD Express.