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Building Success through District Relationships and Healthy Messaging

Kent County is a district on the move towards healthier practices and policies for students and staff. For the past couple of years the entire school district, located in the rural northern part of the Eastern Shore area in Maryland, has been focused on establishing a district wellness council and a strong, clear cut Local Wellness Policy that helps increase good nutrition and physical activity in all Kent County schools.

The district wellness council includes representatives from each school community, administrators from the central office, as well as the Program Manager for Chronic Disease Prevention from the Kent Department of Health. To top it off, the Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Wheeler is very supportive of efforts to become a healthier school district and she attends the majority of the health council meetings.

This year, Kent County Public Schools (KCPS) kicked off with a successful movement towards healthier practices by distributing a SY 2012-2013 calendar that promotes the importance of school wellness. The calendar includes a colorful, four page mid-section dedicated solely to school wellness with pages focused on eating health, being active, and hosting healthy school celebrations. The pages not only introduce the new district wellness council and highlight a need for school based wellness councils, but they also feature helpful healthy tips, such as healthy food ideas for celebrations, the benefits of being active and eating well, and resources and programs available to all schools in the district. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is included as one of the resources, with a reference to the Alliance’s website for locating additional resources such as ideas for celebrations that avoid a focus on unhealthy snack and beverage items.

The calendars were distributed to all schools, with enough copies for each student to take one home. KCPS has a great relationship with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene through their local Department of Health, which helped to sponsor the color printing for the calendars through a local grant. This is a great example of how schools and districts can establish strong relationships and access local resources to begin building a health focused campaign as they kick off the Healthy Schools Program.

KCPS has just started year one of the Healthy Schools Program and they are off to a great start with healthy messaging included in each calendar to help make families and the school communities more aware of ways to be physically active and increase good eating habits. This is a wonderful success story about how to use everyday items to help message the healthy direction your school district is taking!