First and second graders at Bell Elementary are benefitting from a new program being implemented this school year through the health/physical education classes geared towards child health and wellness.
Bell Elementary Physical Education Teacher Lois Bradley received a Coordinated Approach to Child Health (C.A.T.C.H.) grant to expand the scope of her excellent health/physical education program. She and fellow colleagues like Bell Elementary Cook Ralph Reynolds and Extension Specialist Cassie Munsey participated in training this past summer to implement this new program. They were given directions on how to coordinate and facilitate C.A.T.C.H. on a school wide basis.
The school received new materials to be utilized to promote health and wellness. Bradley is working with the food service staff to help stress the importance of good nutrition at school. They are working jointly on projects to teach the young learners throughout this school year.
For instance, their first project was a school wide poster contest called “Taste It Don’t Waste It”. Each student was given a poster to color from the lunchroom staff. They were encouraged to take it home, decorate it, and return it. Each classroom teacher picked a winner. Those posters were displayed in the lunchroom and a prize was given by the cafeteria staff to each winner. This was an effort to get students to try new foods. It was promoted by Bradley in health class, by the cafeteria staff in the lunch line, and by individual classroom teachers’ in their classrooms.
“That is what C.A.T.C.H. is all about, everyone working together to promote student health.” said Bradley. Often times there is a disconnect from the different areas of the building because teachers are so focused on their classroom instructional responsibilities; but they are also there for the children and the whole child is important.
“When the parts all work together, it improves the whole,” noted Bradley.
Just recently, a musical presentation, related to the C.A.T.C.H. grant, was implemented that stressed healthy eating. Jan Lewis’ second grade class participated in the clever program coordinated by the physical education and music teachers which nailed the healthy eating agenda in an age appropriate manner.
In addition, there are several other joint activities planned throughout the year, including special taste testing days with the help of the local extension service office.
The C.A.T.C.H. curriculum offers ideas and pointers for each member of the team. There are special characters like “Flash Fitness” for physical education, “Dynamite Diet” for nutrition, and “Hearty Heart” for overall health. Students learn about Go, Slow, and Whoa foods. This helps students see that no food is totally off limits, but watching and understanding that some foods are better for our health than others. “If we can create good habits early maybe we can make a difference later in life”, said Bradley. She added that she is very excited about this new program and all that it has to offer her students.
The C.A.T.C.H. grant has been in existence for about 20 years, according to RN Sabrina Merrick, a maternal child health coordinator with the Lake Cumberland District Health Department. She explained that the grant is an evidence based program that the Center for Disease Control recognizes. It stresses the whole child, whole school, and whole community approach to preventing child obesity issues.
The $8,500 grant reaches about 850 students since it is being shared between Bell Elementary and Meece Middle School in Somerset. Both schools became eligible to apply for the grant because they had gone the extra mile in completing their state assessments regarding coordinated school health guidelines. The Wayne County School district has consistantly participated in the Healthy Schools program, which started during the Bill Clinton administration and has evolved into the current mandated program.
“We are hopeful that the C.A.T.C.H. program enhances what has already been accomplished at Bell Elementary. The folks here have already been involved in a variety of health related activities and been very proactive in educating children about healthy endeavors,” explained Merrick.
“Ms. Bradley has been very enthusiastic and concerned about the physical well-being and health of her students. She is doing everything she can to teach these students healthy habits. She uses all her resources and tries to be innovative in her teaching strategies,” said Merrick.
Teacher Lois Bradley shows off some of the materials purchased through the grant.
The classroom winners of the food poster contest posed for a photo with their sports equipment gifts.