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Comprehensive wellness plan in the works for DCSD

Kids on field day huddled

Planning funded by grant from Colorado Health Foundation

CASTLE ROCK – A grant is providing the resources to help the Douglas County School District (DCSD) draft a comprehensive wellness plan that will offer guidance to schools on strategies they can use to keep students physically and mentally fit and engaged.

The two-year grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, which continues until the end of the 2017-18 School Year, has prompted the first phase in an effort to create a comprehensive framework for health and wellness for DCSD.

The goal during this initial phase, which is currently underway, is to collect feedback from students, parents and employees this spring regarding the current state of health and wellness offerings across the district, as well as what they would like to see in the future. This information will then be used to create guides for elementary, middle school and high schools on how to integrate physical activity, health education, nutrition and social emotional learning on a daily basis.

“We are looking at how a school can meet the needs of the whole child,” explained Laurie LaComb, DCSD’s Healthy Schools coordinator. “Ultimately, these plans will affect all students from preschool, through 12th grade.”

LaComb says the guide will follow the Whole School, Community, Child model developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). The model is composed of ten elements, including:

  • Health Education
  • Physical Education & Physical Activity
  • Nutrition Environment & Services
  • Health Services
  • Counseling, Psychological & Social Services
  • Social & Emotional Climate
  • Physical Environment
  • Employee Wellness
  • Family Engagement
  • Community Involvement

LEARN MORE: CDC – Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child

The framework will also build upon the work already done within the District in this area. The District’s Healthy Schools effort started in 2009, under another grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, which focused largely on nutrition and physical activity before, during, and after school. “A lot of things are already happening. [Our schools] have physical education by certified PE teachers, for instance,” LaComb said. “We just need to fine tune things.”

LaComb and her team work to empower staff members through utilizing a collaborative  approach to learning and health. Support includes staff training and stipends, not to mention hands-on support in schools.

“We walk them through the whole process,” LaComb said. “We have different mile markers on how to create a healthy school. It starts with identifying your leader, getting your administration support. We help them write their first school health improvement plan and support schools, as needed, throughout the entire process.”

Over the past seven years the program has grown from 15 DCSD schools creating school health improvement plans to more than 45. LaComb says she and her team are working hard to offer a variety of support opportunities, such as student led health teams, mindfulness pilots, staff trainings, and student workshops.

“We’ve gone into almost every classroom in Roxborough, educating teachers and students about mindfulness,” LaComb said.

Additionally, the Healthy Schools team works to regularly encourage collaboration between schools through at events like the Healthy Schools Workshop held this fall at the Highlands Ranch Mansion.

READ MORE: With more than 100 attendees from across DCSD, Healthy Schools Workshop fosters improved health initiatives for students

LaComb hopes that this new effort will help to ensure consistency across Douglas County schools, in regards to health and wellness education and offerings. She says site autonomy has caused contrasting experiences for students.

“It is possible currently for a child going to one of our schools to get a thorough health education, including all the research behind why it is important to be healthy, while another child at a different school may not receive the same level of health education,” LaComb said.

The goal of the Healthy Schools Department is to deeply ingrain health and wellness in the culture of all schools throughout DCSD.

“This is just what we do, it is part of the culture of being a healthy human being in society. It is part of being your best,” LaComb said. “Just like you have exercises to help kids learn math, you also have enough physical exercises so that movement is integrated into your day so students can access their learning.”

LaComb says she intends to apply for another grant with the Colorado Health Foundation to implement the new framework into our schools, beginning during the 2018-19 school year.


December 12, 2016 | By rmbarber | Category: Health Wellness and Prevention

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