Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is the 28th largest school district in the US. And, now it's my local school district in Louisville, Kentucky. I was invited to attend the JCPS Principal Advisory and District Wellness Committee Meeting today. I was incredibly impressed by the organizations and partners in attendance, including a school board member, Family Resource and Youth Services Center representative, PTA, the school counseling lead for the district, food service director, Department of Education, Center for Health Equity and two principals! I'm sure I missed another 4-5 organizations in attendance.
The district has been working hard on a set of documents that I've actually never seen a district do. They have a document for each of the 8 components of Coordinated School Health (CSH) and they listed the federal, state and local policies supporting each component. For example, for Nutrition Services, they describe the component and list the federal, state and local regulations and polices, as well as the websites and references that align to nutrition services. Same for the other 7 components. A great tool for administrators to demonstrate that school health isn't yet another 'thing' to do, but something already in place in policy, that supports the learning of your students.
Discussions around coat collection efforts and vision screenings for youth were discussed, including moving away from donuts and muffins to popcorn. It's all school health. We want youth to have coats to get to and from school. We want kids to be able to see. We want students to have access to nutrient rich foods. I found it amazing how no matter what level meeting I'm in (national, state, local), the discussions are the same, implementation a bit different. How do we create sustainable systems change in schools that address the whole child? How can we continue to make the case that healthy kids learn better? That our test scores won't increase without safe, healthy children?
I'm thrilled to have picked to live in a city that has an engaged District Wellness Committee. This city gets better and better everyday!