PS 37 Looks for Heart Healthy Fundraisers

Last October, Rafael de Cordero School 37 in Jersey City, kicked off a year of healthy initiatives with their 4th annual Fun Run. The Fun Run, which raised $11,000 this year, became a tradition when budget cuts had reduced the money available for field trips. Instead of selling candy or other unhealthy snacks, Principal Marvin Strynar decided to hold a run after his grandchild’s school held a similar event. He saw the possibility of raising funds for the school with a healthy activity instead of selling food or candy. Since School 37 joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, the wellness council has looked for more opportunities to infuse health and wellness into all aspects of the school day.

During PE classes that day, students and teachers walked to the park and participated in the Fun Run, which varied in length by grade level. Students prepared for the event by getting sponsors to make donations based on the number of laps they ran. Parent volunteers participated by marking students’ shirts to count the laps as they ran by, and staff handed out water at the finish line. Each run culminated in a dance party at the gazebo in the center of the park, where a DJ played music and a 7th grade student kept the beat on a drum. Mayor Steven Fullop and Councilman Daniel Rivera attended the Fun Run and recognized the school’s efforts to promote health through this event and commended Principal Strynar for his leadership as principal of School 37 for over 40 years.

Before the Fun Run began, physical education teacher Melissa Fuchs led a school-wide assembly to announce the school’s participation in Healthy U, a YMCA program aimed at preventing childhood obesity. Fuchs spoke about the importance of physical activity and healthy eating, guided the students through a Healthy U pledge, and got the whole school up and moving with a Fit for a Healthier Generationphysical activity break. The entire school community sported Healthy U t-shirts to show their commitment to the program. 

The Cordero School is one of two schools in Jersey City that received the Healthy U grant this year to energize their school with physical and health education integrated across the curriculum. Healthy U is collaboration between the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance and The Horizon Foundation of New Jersey, which supports the program through a grant. Healthy U uses the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum to address the focus areas of physical activity, health education and family involvement, and uses Fitnessgram to assess student fitness and activity levels. Healthy U helps schools meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Framework criteria in physical education and health education. The PE program is based on non-elimination games that promote moderate to vigorous physical activity, while the health education curriculum includes lessons on healthy eating and physical activity that can be integrated across the content areas. The School Wellness Council received training from the YMCA of Newark and Vicinity as part of the model in which schools partner with a local YMCA to implement the Healthy U program, along with the curriculum, equipment for CATCH, and iPads for the PE staff to implement Fitnessgram.

This winter Rafael de Cordero School 37 will host another healthy fundraiser: A Valentine’s night of dinner, dancing and an auction for parents and staff. Good for the school, and the heart!