The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recognized New London Middle School and Readfield Elementary School for its efforts to promote health and wellness.
Four faculty members from the district were in attendance at the school board meeting held, Monday, Nov. 10, to display the awards and share information about the Healthy Schools Program with board members.
Faculty members were Brian Yerkey, activities/athletic director; Pete Schulz, Intermediate/Middle School principal; Kristin Grable, Readfield and Sugar Bush Elementary School principal; and Gloria Peterson, first and second grade teacher at Readfield Elementary.
The middle school was one of 11 schools to earn a gold health award. Readfield attained a silver health award along with three other schools. Readfield received the bronze health award last year as well as recognition for its Fire Up Your Feet Program.
“It was a great improvement and uptick for our school to receive the silver award,” Grable said.
The health award is a way to recognize schools with policies and programs that support and promote healthy eating, physical activity, parental and community involvement, and staff wellness. The goal of the award is to motivate and empower Wisconsin schools as they create and maintain healthy school environments.
Approximately 2,300 schools participated in the Healthy Schools Program and only 22 schools in Wisconsin were recognized.
“The district recognizes its responsibility to promote health and wellness, and contribute to the general well-being of students,” District Administrator Kathy Gwidt said.
Gwidt added that some of the wellness activities within the district included: Walk/Run Fitness Fun, Witness the Fitness, Adventure to Fitness, Apple Crunch Day, Farm to School, Jump Rope for Heart, Bike Safety, DECA Fitness Bag Project, and online options integrated into physical education.
Last spring the middle school started a running club and the club is in full effect this school year. The school partnered with Thedacare, who donated $3,000 to support the club’s efforts. Funding went toward running gear, shoes, and ability for students to enter or register themselves in a race.
“Taking that financial component out of play for students who wanted to participate regardless of what grade they were in really helped our school in support of the club,” Schulz said.
Running club members will be participating DePere’s Noodleini Race on Sunday, Nov. 30. This will be the club’s first race to participate in. Also new to the district is the Bulldog Dash.
In partnership with the New London Parks and Recreation Department the Bulldogs of Character in the community organized the first Bulldog Dash race. The dash was a free 1K Run/Walk Race that children had the opportunity to participate in during the Fall Family Fest held in early September.
“As a district we work diligently to support wellness opportunities to ensure success of all students,” Gwidt said. “It’s really part of educating the whole child.”
The district’s next steps related to health and wellness is to look at ways to understand and address the needs of the “whole child.” Needs consisting of social, emotional and behavior health that often influences a child’s education.
“We want our schools to better identify and respond to mental health issues among youth,” Laurie Schmidt, director of Pupil Services said.
As a next step the district is looking to work with Kasey Kaepernick from Waupaca County’s Department of Health and Human Services. Kaepernick is starting efforts to bring a group called Rise Together to New London to do a presentation for high school students and for the community to better understand the issue of heroine abuse in Wisconsin. The presentation also provides follow-up care when talking about addiction.
“These aren’t topics anyone wants to talk about it, they’re definitely are things we have to deal with in our community just like our neighboring communities,” Schmidt said.
The district also has an ongoing participation with Fox Valley School Districts to present the community mental health event, “Let’s Talk About It.” This event provides opportunities to learn about the importance of mental health and local resources. Part two of the session was held at Kaukauna High School on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
The district is committed to continue its efforts to strengthen and expand wellness initiatives for students, families, staff, and the community.
“We really are doing all we can to model, support, and promote wellness for our students because at the end of the day healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults,” Gwidt said.