Opinion
Education Opinion

What A Commitment To Health And Social-Emotional Learning Looks Like

By Learning Is Social & Emotional Contributor — September 10, 2018 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Daniel Hatcher

In my last post, What Is the Healthy Afterschool Movement?, I discussed Healthier Generation’s partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, through which we’ve helped over 1,650 park and recreation sites provide increased access to healthy food and physical activity for more than 293,000 kids.

The numbers are exciting - but what does it truly look like to “Commit To Health” while bringing social, emotional and academic development practices to life?

For this post, I interviewed two young professionals from Montrose Recreation District (Colo.): Tyler Morales, site coordinator, and Mackenzie Lyons, program leader. Both are part of a brand new rural cohort of Commit to Health sites funded by the Walmart Foundation. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tell me a little about your program and the community you serve.

TM: Montrose is a small community on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Our program is a half-day summer camp and our primary goal is to create an enriching summer full of educational, physical, and artistic activities. We serve students between the ages of 6 and 14. We focus on the whole child (mental, physical, and emotional) and our team plans activities in collaboration with the local community.

How long have you been part of Commit to Health? What benefits has your enrichment program experienced from being part of Commit to Health?

ML: This is our first summer being part of Commit to Health and we’ve found it fun to use new resources like Foods of the Month and Community and Home Gardening to engage families in meaningful ways. Our students enjoyed learning about foods that we were planning to grow, getting their hands dirty planting, watering and, of course, weeding.

Our children thought it was awesome to see the foods grow and enjoy the result of their hard work - making it even more exciting to try new vegetables! As for the physical activity side of our program, we have seen children’s confidence and ability increase over the summer. It’s inspiring to see students play games that they have never heard of before and overcome fears to jump into the pool for the first time.

How does health and wellness fit within your programming? How does this extend to staff education?

TM: When our leaders sit down to plan the summer, they now make sure to add cooperative outdoor physical activity into the schedule. If food is used, we focus on whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Our staff is conscious of the foods that they eat in front of children; this has led to improvements in what our staff eat in their daily life. In addition to eating healthy foods with our children every day, our team participates in the activities. We have guidelines for the duration of physical activity (45 minutes) per day of camp, where it takes place (outside) and any videos used are educational.

We’ve added activities that increase cultural competency too. For example, we had a themed week called “Every Day is a Holiday,” which included cultural traditions from Mexico, China, and across the United States. We included crafts, physical activity and enriching videos so our children could learn more about each other and the world.

Key components of the Whole Child model include community involvement and family engagement. How does your program provide guidance in these areas?

ML: This year we formed an important community group called “Peer Kindness” that focuses on anti-bullying strategies, inclusion, and kindness. This group was started because of a community member’s suicide. We focused on how each of us can foster kindness and prevent similar tragedies from happening. The children learned techniques for including each other in activities and how to stand up for each other.

For parent involvement, we hosted art expos where the children could show their parents everything that they have created throughout the sessions. We also have a parent bulletin board and education table that includes recipes, at-home activities, and newspaper articles that celebrate our program. We want to make families proud of what we’re doing.

The social and emotional health of children can be as important as physical health. How can we better take care of children’s emotional needs when we Commit to Health?

TM: Emotional growth is so important for children in the age range we serve in Montrose. We make sure that children learn to share their feelings and tell their own stories during programming. If they are upset, we want to make sure our environment empowers them to express their feelings. Some of the children we serve come from challenging homes; to be heard is important for their well-being. As leaders, we practice our communication skills as well. We don’t yell, and we model appropriate conversation skills - even if it is communicating that a child did something wrong. Making sure our children are practicing appropriate ways to communicate their feelings is key in all of our daily practices no matter what we’re teaching.

Photo: Commit to Health students pitch in to weed the community garden. (Courtesy of Daniel Hatcher/Commit to Health Montrose)

Daniel W. Hatcher is director of community partnerships for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national nonprofit working to empower schools, companies, community organizations and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier kids. Hatcher has spent over a decade developing partnerships and innovative content with the goal of ensuring all 10.2 million children in afterschool have the opportunity to eat healthy and stay active.

The opinions expressed in Learning Is Social & Emotional are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP