Not only do today’s school programs promote a healthy mind, many of them focus on maintaining healthy bodies as well. One of the ways that goal is met is through the implementation of health fairs and wellness days.
Students rise to meet the challenges and adopt healthier lifestyles. But running health-conscious programs for students is not the only goal of such wellness programs. Many schools put together events for faculty and staff that promote healthy activities as well as team building exercises. School districts across the Finger Lakes have set up these types of programs for employees. The programs are designed for fun and fitness.
The Gananda Central School District held its Wellness Day on May 26, just before the end of the school year. Stacia Kanellopoulos, the wellness coordinator for the school district, says faculty and staff packed a ton of fun and healthy activities into a half-day program.
When designing the program, Kanellopoulos tries to look at all aspects of healthy living, which can range from physical, mental, emotional and financial health.
“Our day, it’s for all the staff in the district,” she says. “Teachers, support staff, cafeterias, all walks of life participate and we try to make things accessible to everyone.”
During the wellness day events, there were approximately 185 staff and faculty members who participated. Events held throughout the shortened day included yoga, meditation, martial arts instruction, tips on healthy eating and more.
Kanellopoulos says the events focused on the theme of “energy-in and energy-out.” For energy-in, Kanellopoulos looked at the concept of food as energy. With that in mind, she set up several programs focused on making the most of your food choices. She brought in a nutritionist to discuss what a daily diet should look like for healthy individuals, as well as for people living with diabetes or high blood pressure.
The energy-out portion of the day was focused on various activities that ranged from playing beanbag toss and ladder ball, to self-defense programs and yoga instruction.
Kanellopoulos, who is also a certified health coach, says she wanted to offer a wide range of activities to draw as many people as possible, and to have an environment that isn’t intimidating for people who are not regularly active.
“When people come to it, sometimes begrudgingly, by the time they left, they really enjoyed themselves,” she says. “It’s a fun day. I really enjoyed doing this. Being part of the health and wellness team is truly a passion for me.”
Waterloo Central School District Wellness Day was held in May. The event featured a health fair and various 45-minute workshops.
Waterloo Wellness Coordinators Chelsea Jay, a sixth-grade science teacher, and Heather Bonetti, a TA for the middle and high schools, say this was the first time the district has offered a wellness day event, and the response was quite positive. The day drew about 250 participants, and was packed with different physical activities and information sessions.
Jay and Bonetti say Wellness Day “gave staff an opportunity to try new things without taking too big a risk or investing lots of time/money into something they were curious about.” They also brought in local wellness vendors such as acupuncturists, chiropractors and dealers of essential oils.
When the event was over, they heard from several members of faculty and staff who planned to sign up for new healthy activities, or add activities such as acupuncture or meditation to their lives.
“Even the feedback from the local vendors was positive,” Jay said in an email. “They were pleased to have the opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge with other members of the community and staff within the district.”
In the Lyons Central School District in Wayne County, the health fair served as a Back to School Bash. The event was held in early August to help families prepare for the new school year. The district is offering a number of healthy events for employees and district families.
Robin Cinelli, a co-chair of the district’s wellness committee, says the committee has been advertising the event since the end of the 2016-17 school year and looks forward to a promising turnout.
Judging by the participation from neighboring school districts, the Lyons event should to be an exciting time for district faculty, staff and families.