The WELL Campaign, a statewide advocacy effort to develop the health and well-being of all students visited Throggs Neck on Thursday, May 16 to speak about their work and release their new research on a school wellness programs in school districts statewide.
The WELL Campaign used their findings to call on the state to take a leadership role in prioritizing school wellness, said Claire Raffel, leadership of the WELL Campaign, with an eye toward creating a basic framework for programs that address students physical, emotional and psychological well-being that then could be fine-tuned to suit the needs of local schools.
“Our state government must take a leadership role in prioritizing school wellness,” said Raffel.
The press conference took place outside Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s district office, with Raffel saying that Benedetto is very helpful in introducing wellness legislation in the NYS Assembly.
Benedetto said he trying to have a NYS Department of Education wellness coordinator position filled that has been vacant for nine years, and wants to create a statewide effort beginning here in the borough, around programs that provide all students the nutrition they need so they are ready to learn.
“We want to create a statewide movement to get people interested in youth wellness as a whole and making it work in all of our schools,” said Benedetto. “Then once we do that, we have to start a second push to get the needed funding.”
Benedetto said that the state already has health standards, and that it is up to the local school districts to develop curriculum that addresses these standards.
Kelly Moltzen, Bronx Health REACH project manager, who attended the press conference, said a model wellness program for youth, which Benedetto and the WELL Campaign are advocating for, could include nutrition education, healthy school food and comprehensive school physical activity program.
The comprehensive program includes physical activity before and after school, physical education and parental involvement, she said.