November is National PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month – a time when PTAs are encouraged to celebrate health and wellness in their schools and communities.
It was a beautiful day in Virginia – the sun was shining, blue skies and the air had just started to turn cool. What a great day to kick off our Family Fitness Fun programming at Prince William Forest with a family hike led by Mrs. Karin Martin and her family on Laurel Loop Trail.
Rockledge Elementary School has a long history of being focused on wellness. The success of Rockledge’s health and fitness efforts is due to the support of the entire staff in addition to the Wellness Committee always being the driving force. The committee is comprised of staff, student and parent representatives with a desire to provide fun ways to get students moving all day long.
Each year, Rockledge adds a little more. During morning announcements, students and staff share tips for healthy eating and get the blood flowing with Morning Movement. We have fun ways for students to move and learn about good nutrition before and after school with our Fitness, Scottish Dancing, Cheerleading, and Healthy Cooking clubs. Students look forward to our annual Field Day which has lots of water play, and our biannual Health & Safety Night with Tae Kwon Do and dance performances, fitness classes and information tables.
Our principal, Mrs. Amy Schott, encourages students to eat a nutritious lunch with stickers which say “My principal is proud of me for eating a healthy lunch today!” when she “catches” them eating protein, fruit AND a vegetable with their lunch. The lunches also must not include unhealthy items such as chips, candy, juice or other beverages with high sugar content. Rockledge also promotes wellness in its monthly newsletter, on its website, through the OLEWEUS bullying prevention program, and by encouraging healthy birthday alternatives.
The Rockledge PTA has been able to add to these efforts through its use of the Healthy Lifestyles Energy Balance 101 grant. Last year we started slow by adding our family walking program, “Walk Around the World with Rockledge,” provided fitness instructors at Health & Safety Night, and celebrated with winter and end-of-the year dances. This year, we are using our grant funding to continue these programs and expand our programming get our families moving with hikes at local parks, evening fitness classes with Zumba, yoga and Jazzercise instructors, and a bike safety program. We also make sure our students eat right to stay focused during SOL exams by providing breakfast on each exam day.
My advice to PTAs: Start small with your fitness programming and add to it each year. Think of easy ways to reach families – a newsletter, website, fitness night, or family field day. Add to these ideas each year and make it FUN to stay healthy!
Kerry Coleman-Proksch is the treasurer, Rockledge PTA. Kerry is mother to two boys, Jack (8), and Patrick (5). This is her second year as Treasurer of the Rockledge PTA. Kerry works at Northern Virginia Community College as a Pathway to the Baccalaureate academic adviser.