Wellness at the “core” of our common core

Turkey Valley kindergarten students incorporating the garden into their common core - writing and observation skills.

Turkey Valley kindergarten students incorporating the garden into their common core – writing and observation skills.

We want wellness to be at the “core” of our common core. Not just an extra. Not just an add-on. Not a stressor.

 

We want wellness to be part of our teaching, to be integrated into our normal curriculum. Only then can it be sustainable. Only then can it last and continue and grow and expand within our schools as our schools continue and grow and expand.

 

If wellness is seen and taught as just an optional “extra”… it will be valued as such. Instead, if it is seen as an absolute necessity, imagine how vibrant and full and rich our school and communities could be. People valuing wellness in all aspects of their lives and treating those around them with the same care and support.

Turkey Valley 3rd grade students using the garden to make observations about their common core topic - "living things."

Turkey Valley 3rd grade students using the garden to make observations about their common core topic – “living things.”

Now, the idea that wellness would be present in all aspects of our lives can sometimes be seen as impossible – the idealist’s dream… but what if we made steps towards this goal – toward this dream. There are major hurdles to cross, such as social and economic injustices in our communities, but what if we already had some tools to make positive changes in our environments and communities… in our schools? That tool could be something like the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative or a similar program. Or maybe it’s just wellness-dedicated teachers that need some more support behind them – our support behind them.

 

St. Joe's 3rd and 4th grade students learning about perimeter by measuring our raised garden beds.

St. Joe’s 3rd and 4th grade students learning about perimeter by measuring our raised garden beds.

Change is possible and change is happening. And there’s always room for more positive change. All that’s needed from us is a “yes.” A willingness – an open door into our classrooms or an open spot in the lunch line for some local lettuce and black bean salsa that the kids LOVED. Really, we just need to have an open and willing heart.

 

Because wellness IS essential. Iowa was one of the last states in the rankings of overall fruit and vegetable consumption. Northeast Iowa has higher than average child BMI scores. Depressing statistics.

 

But Northeast Iowa also has some incredible programs and resources to change these statistics. We have amazing tools at our fingertips to incorporate wellness into the fiber and being of our schools.

 

And wellness CAN make a big change in the depressing statistics concerning child obesity and diseases – FoodCorps states that 7 out of 10 children who have 10 or more hours of wellness teaching in their classroom “will finish out the year improving their attitude towards vegetables, trying new ones, or maintaining their high regard for them.” Kids growing up loving veggies can mature into adults who value food, treat their bodies well, and see the importance of a local food system. These small changes CAN make a big impact. Wellness can make a big impact.

 

But wellness needs ALL of us. Wellness needs me and you. Wellness needs to be at our core for the system to be whole. Wellness needs to be in our classrooms and incorporated into our spelling lessons, and math lessons. Wellness needs to be in our lunchrooms and our school events. Wellness needs to be in our communities.

 

So the question for us all is this… Will you say “yes” to wellness? Will you welcome wellness into your sphere of life? Will you come with us on this journey?

 

Together we grow healthy kids.”

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