Making the Case for School Wellness
When making the case for school wellness, you may need to address your audience’s questions and concerns. Below are some frequent ones, and responses that may help you out.
Q: We’re already too busy with other things; how do we fit in school wellness with all of our other obligations?
A: We’re not asking for a large time commitment (from school administrators) for wellness program implementation, however the most important thing we’ll need is support.
Perhaps you can include our (school’s) wellness team as one of the optional committees for which staff can volunteer.
And something as simple as offering wellness activities to staff can help to relieve their own stress and burdens.
These are a couple of examples of how your support can help strengthen our (school/district’s) wellness program.
Q: Shouldn’t we be focusing on academics?
A: Be assured that our wellness program efforts will not undermine or compete with our academics in any way.
There are many ways we can integrate physical activity and nutrition education into classroom lessons, for example (provide examples such as Math and Movement ®, Active Academics, Brain Breaks, Energizers, etc.).
In addition, multiple studies have shown that healthy kids are able to focus better overall and learn better.
Q: Isn’t it the parents’ job to teach healthy habits and not the responsibility of the school?
A: It is our school’s responsibility to maximize student performance, and multiple studies show that healthy habits and academic success go hand in hand.
While as a school we’re not expected to solve childhood obesity alone, we play a very important role in addressing good health alongside of parents, healthcare providers, and the community.
Q: We don’t want to break our school’s traditions – how do we avoid doing that? (For example “we’ve always had classroom birthday celebrations with cupcakes”)
A: Perhaps we use this (our wellness program/policy) as a starting point to create new and improved traditions for our school.
Our new wellness policies, programs and activities will help us be in better alignment with teaching kids healthy lifelong habits instead of contradicting our messages.
Q: How can we possibly make changes when the students like what we’re serving them?
A: Though the students may like what we’re currently serving them, there’s a good possibility that they make like some of the new cafeteria foods that we introduce even more!
Better yet, we could take it a step further and make the changes fun and engaging for the students by getting them involved. Several districts have had highly successful activities such as healthy cooking classes and contests for healthy meal creations by the students.
Q: How are we expected to make changes when these foods are a part of our heritage?
A: It’s our goal to help our (school/district) implement healthy changes in a way that’s as seamless as possible. If this means making subtle changes slowly so that we aren’t completely discarding long-time traditions all at once, then we will work to do that.
Instead of taking (certain foods) away, we’ll work to “crowd out” the unhealthy foods by adding healthier options. In time and by doing this our wellness policy will help us seamlessly establish new normals that will become new and welcomed traditions.
Q: We can’t afford any new initiatives – how will we pay for the wellness activites?
A: Wellness activities and enhancing our (school’s/district’s) wellness policies does not have to come at an added cost to our school.
There are many sources of funding in the community to help us implement our wellness programs, for example the ‘Creating Healthy Schools and Communities’ (CHSC) grant funded by the New York State Department of Health. At no cost to our district, CHSC can help us by providing training and materials for active indoor recess, provide us with alternatives to food celebrations (such as birthday sashes), as well as many other resources to support our wellness initiatives.