Urban School Wellness Coalition

This week, Jamie Sparks and I co-facilitated two sessions of the Urban School Wellness Coalition convened by Action for Healthy Kids. This Coalition, comprised of thirty large urban districts came together in Denver to network, share stories, gain knowledge around Wellness Policies, the WellSATEvery Students Succeed Act (ESSA), Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) and observe WSCC in action at a local school!

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Jamie and I spent about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon on ESSA. We introduced the federal legislation, including key Titles for those unfamiliar with it, shared Cairn Guidance's State ESSA Analysis, and allowed district participants time to review their states' analysis to determine opportunities and challenges within their districts as they move ahead. Yesterday, we spent the morning on WSCC- introducing the framework, sharing effective practices around the school health approach, systems thinking; systems changing, creating buy-in and addressing resistance and brought participants through a variety of engaging activities in order for districts to essentially begin to see how ESSA and WSCC, advocacy, support, implementation are feasible and achievable at home!

We created and share our ESSA/WSCC Symbaloo page- a page that showcases the most current, helpful resources in the school health field. Feel free to share with your colleagues.

We were honored to have the chance to network, socialize, share, train education leaders around the country this week- what a fabulous group truly dedicated to shifting the norms of how we define school success in the United States. 

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Since 2013, the Urban School Wellness Coalition brings together urban district health and wellness leaders to facilitate discussion around mutually important issues, provide opportunities to share information, network with peers, coordinate joint efforts, and inform urban educational leaders on the importance of student health as a driver of academic success.
— Action for Healthy Kids

OEA Choice Trust's School Employee Wellness Conference

Kudos to OEA Choice Trust! Their sixth annual School Employee Wellness (SEW) Conference was a huge success. The conference, held in Oregon during spring break, attracts many public health partners, community based organizations, teachers, superintendents, principals, school nurses, human resource directors, and other types of educators that work in school systems. The event is up to 275 participants from 50 their first year!

 Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

This conference does an incredible job of walking the talk. It's held in Bend, a beautiful area of Oregon and each morning prior to opening sessions, group yoga, runs and walks are offered. Mid-afternoon, Zumba, walks, runs, essential oils and healthy snack learning boosts are offered. The food was colorful and nutrient rich. There were times to network, tell your story, connect and find opportunities to find intersections of your work with others. 

I facilitated two sessions, one on School Health Advisory Committees and their role in sustaining a school health initiative, and, Creating Buy-In and Addressing Resistance for your School Employee Wellness Program. Both were well attended with great participation in activities and rich dialogue. 

I love being asked to present at this conference for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, I love hearing the stories schools share to create a culture of health for their school staff. The examples of taking care of your employees so that they can do their best jobs with kids, so that they are present, so that they are healthy, and, so they stay in their position (retention). This event is a perfect example of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Framework in action. Taking one component- employee wellness, but using a coordinated, collaborative approach that engages public health, parents, internal educators, leadership, community partners, grocery stores, gyms, health care systems and policy makers to support one of the most important jobs in this country!