If you haven’t heard, the South Seneca Central School District is a fortunate recipient of a NYS Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC) Grant, geared toward enhancing physical activity and nutrition programs.
The grant will be spread out over the next four years and can be used in a variety of ways to help assess, strengthen, grow, and sustain our district-wide programming.
“It’s an amazing grant,” South Seneca Central School District MTSS Coordinator Laura Rundell said. “It’s something we should be excited about and a great opportunity for the district.”
More recently, the district has been gaining input from stakeholders who are involved directly with these types of programs such as its physical and health educators, food service director, as well as students in grades 5-12, various district staff members, and administration. They are also inviting community input until June 1 through this form here.
Part of the grant asks that a District Wellness Committee be established and the District Wellness Policy updated. The process to update a Wellness Policy involves a tool called the WellSAT, which helps analyze the language and makes suggestions on where the policy could be strengthened.
“For this particular policy update,” Rundell explained, “ we are able to identify areas we would like to grow in that CHSC grant funds can help us bring to life. For example, if we want more local produce and farm-to-school opportunities and express the intention for this in the Wellness Policy, this grant can fund more grow towers in classrooms, garden and kitchen equipment, or staff training that can allow for these practices to be implemented, strengthened, and/or become more sustainable.”
In order to strengthen aspects of the policy in practice, resources might be needed. This is another area where the grant can help support. The Wellness Committee, comprised of the stakeholder groups listed above, have met and made recommended changes based on the WellSAT analysis. The proposed changes are linked here and will go to the BOE policy committee as the next step in the process.
“Currently we have 18 people on the committee, including myself,” Rundell said. “All staff were invited to join the District Wellness Committee in January and those who volunteered to be part of it include teachers, teaching assistants, the food service director, school nurses, the school social worker, and administrators. We met in January, February, and March to analyze the policy together and create a draft of proposed changes.”
“In addition to the staff on the committee, we also have student voices,” Rundell continued. “I have invited students grades 4-12 to participate in a Student Wellness Committee and we currently have about 50 students who have met to discuss their ideas around the grant funding, sharing health and wellness information with their peers through a wellness newsletter, and planning wellness related events like a health related spirit week. From these student meetings I take their information back to the larger adult committee.”
Rundell also wanted to point out that now is the time for community input and feedback, noting that “any and all suggestions will be revisited before it goes to the policy committee,” she said.
The draft of the Wellness Policy can be found here.
If you have any comments or suggestions you would like to make, or propose ideas on how the district might be able to use the grant funds to support these areas of health for South Seneca students, please use this form to share your thoughts. The form will be available for feedback until June 1, 2022.