From the Superintendent at the District Office to the newest kindergarten student in the Sunnyvale School District, everyone is experiencing some aspects of the district-wide health and fitness programs every school day. While students at one school might be walking or running laps during lunch, District Office staff are striving toward their Employee Wellness goals; for example, staff members may be seen walking around the neighborhood on Walking Wednesdays, one of five Employee Wellness themes, a different one for each weekday.
Pam Murdock, Sunnyvale School District’s Health and Education Materials Assistant, coordinates health and wellness programs and encourages staff, teachers, and administrators to be role models for students. One of the longest running programs is the Fit For Learning (ffl) program, funded by a grant through the Santa Clara County Office of Education and in full force in our district since 2006. Nine of our school sites have an ffl teacher Champion, who shares health and wellness information provided by the ffl program with their staff.
In addition to the mandated Physical Education instruction during class time, Sunnyvale School District supports parent and community efforts to organize fitness events on school grounds and within the community. Most elementary schools raise funds through their annual walk-a-thons and other fun events such as the Vargas Marathon Club — a lunch-time activity for children to get in shape for a 5K Fun Run. This event is held right before the City’s Fit and Fun Fair. In addition, the District’s two middle schools organize a Spartan-Bulldog 3K Run as a fundraiser.
Have you heard about fifty-two ten? Our students surely know what it means! 5210 reminds students to have a daily program of 5 fruits or vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugared drinks. Within Sunnyvale District Schools, PAMF’s (Palo Alto Medical Foundation) Youth Nutrition Program, in partnership with El Camino Hospital, helped launch the 5210 public health campaign in all district schools this year. Whenever available, fresh fruits and vegetables are served in school cafeterias. Baked versions of items like tater tots replace deep-fried ones and starting this year, chocolate milk is no longer available in school cafeterias.
We know that in addition to diet and exercise, students must be emotionally strong in order to thrive. Kaiser Permanente has been providing FREE life theater assemblies for K-5 and 6-8. The Kaiser Permanente programs promote a positive message to our students and supports a healthy lifestyle. The theater performances are a powerful experience for everyone. Perhaps you have heard about these assemblies?
“Best Me” is an assembly for grades K-5 that teaches students about healthy living and making healthy choices.
“Peace Signs”, grades 3-6, is an anti-bullying assembly that teaches students the skills to deal with conflict. These two Kaiser programs also include workshops in the classroom for grades 3-5 and include a Free Family night (K-5) that provides a healthy meal for the entire family and gives parents the opportunity to see the theater presentation.
“Nightmare on Puberty Street”, grades 6-8, Kaiser brings the life theater program to explain to students what to expect as they go through puberty.
We care about student safety on the way to school as well. The Safe Routes to School program reaches all ten schools in the district. Part of this program involves assessing neighborhoods around our schools to determine walk-ability of roads from home to school, and making detailed suggestions to the city to help provide safer routes for students to walk or bike to school.
Sunnyvale School District would not succeed without our community partners! The School District is very fortunate to be on the receiving end of the Sunnyvale Community Health Collaborative that brings together all stakeholders in Sunnyvale to support healthy lifestyles. These include Palo Alto Medical Foundation Health Education Department, PAMF’s Youth Nutrition Program, El Camino Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Sunnyvale Public Safety (Sunnyvale Police Activities League), Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Sports Basement, Columbia Neighborhood Center (Offering low-cost and free exercise classes for students as well as their families) and others. Together we promote healthy lifestyles for youth and families in the city of Sunnyvale.
Contributors: Pam Murdock, Health and Education Materials Assistant and Nina Wong-Dobkin