Category Archives: schools

Making a Splash: Perspectives Middle Academy’s Water Challenge

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A student taking the Water Challenge

By Amissah Seals, ELEV8 Program Manager

Though Perspectives Middle Academy (PMA) encourages its scholars to live healthy lifestyles by providing fresh healthy lunches and enacting a no soda machine policy, many of our scholars still struggle with obesity. There are also a high number of students with diabetes and other illnesses that are closely linked to how and what we eat. Even with a “no soda policy” water is not always the first choice when picking a beverage. Many of the juices and sports drinks that our scholars have access to are loaded with sugar. We wanted to show our scholars that a small change to their diet could improve their energy, help them lose weight and become more active. What better way than through simply drinking more water! With support from CLOCC as a part of the Healthy Schools Initiative focused on creating healthier school environments, ELEV8 embarked on a campaign to get our scholars to drink more water.

On February 28, we kicked off the ELEV8 at PMA Water Challenge with a lively pep rally! The scholar Health Ambassadors made a presentation called “WHY WATER?” They spoke earnestly with their fellow scholars about the health benefits of water and why we felt the need to try to challenge the PMA student body to drink more water. They explained that the challenge would last 10 weeks. We showed a video featuring Mrs. Michelle Obama extolling the virtues of water and our PMA Warriors cheerleading team lead us in a few cheers to get the scholars excited about the challenge ahead.

Our goal was to increase students’ and faculty members’ water intake by 48 ounces a day. We started by purchasing two cold filtered water machines. This move alone had the entire Perspectives Auburn Gresham campus excited! One of the many complaints we heard when asking students about why they did not drink the water available to them in the cafeteria or in the regular water fountains was the taste and that it was never cold! In addition, we purchased water bottles for the entire student body, faculty and staff. There were no excuses not to get your daily dose of fresh clean water. Our health ambassadors hung the marketing materials and made daily reminders during advisory periods. Ultimately we hoped to increase our schools water intake by 760,000 ounces by the end of the 10 week challenge.

The stage was set, but we met a few challenges along the way. One of the major problems we encountered was how to record the amount of water each student drank. We settled on an “honor system” where students added multicolored stickers to large bulletin boards placed near each water machine and in the cafeteria. Another issue we faced was the scholars losing water bottles.

For the most part our challenge went quite well. With the guidance of our health coordinator, Anya Cawthon, the PMA Health Ambassadors presented during lunch time and during “A Disciplined Life” (ADL) classes, reminding students of the benefits of drinking more water and living a healthy lifestyle. Though we fell slightly short of our 760,000 ounce goal, we managed to have nearly 80% of the student body retain their water bottles for the remainder of the school year. We also inspired both of the high schools to plan a water challenge for the Fall of 2014. A lasting effect of the water challenge is that Perspectives Auburn Gresham Campus will have access to cold filtered water for years to come.

From Michelle Hill – 6th grade student at Perspectives Middle Academy:

I am a sixth grade scholar here at Perspectives Middle Academy. Ms. Cawton asked me to join the Health Ambassadors to help give me some focus. At first I was scared to talk in front of the whole school about drinking water. I thought that they would not listen to me because water isn’t that interesting. Then we started learning about how water can help you stay healthy. Our school really likes to be competitive and do challenges against the other classes. I thought I would really like to help my advisory win the challenge.

The hardest part was getting all the scholars to remember to bring their water bottles with them every day. By the middle of the challenge I really started to like drinking water more. Especially when we could sometimes add lemon juice! I think the Water Challenge was really fun, and we should do it again next year!

Promoting “Salud”: CLOCC Focuses on Latino Health

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Daney Ramirez and Jaime Arteaga

By Jaime Arteaga, CLOCC Community Programs Coordinator, and Daney Ramirez, CLOCC Food Environment Coordinator

On February 7, 2014. DePaul University hosted the Health Disparities and Social Justice Conference.  With a special focus on Latino health, the conference offered a valuable space for dialogue among a range of health and community experts who share DePaul’s mission to address social injustices and community health practices in marginalized groups. Presenters provided a training opportunity to increase public health skills in identifying and addressing a wide variety of health disparities in diverse communities.  We are excited to participate and represent CLOCC at this event.

I (Jaime) was a panelist for the ¡Vive Tu Vida! A Model for Creating Healthy Social Experiences and Systems in Low Socio-Economic Status Hispanic Communities workshop where I highlighted the importance and need for walkable communities to promote active transportation by residents.  To support this, CLOCC has a Neighborhood Walkability Assessment Tool that offers straightforward solutions that help lay the foundation for living an active, safe and healthy lifestyle. Participants also learned about Active Transportation’s Better Blocks work which produces community walking ambassadors and promote walking groups; The American Heart Association’s Walking Paths program which uses a fun online tool and phone app to design free and safe routes in communities that promotes walking, brings neighbors together, and provides valuable history lessons; and LISC’s Play Streets initiative that activates community space and spurs physical activity in communities that either lack green space or safe space for residents to enjoy.  At the end of the session, participants were able to define and apply steps in the assessment process, test an online tool to create customized paths in their communities, and learn how to become walking advocates in their neighborhoods.

I (Daney), along with CLOCC School and Community Initiatives Manager Anna Barnes, presented findings from our Healthy Mobile Vending project.  As a part of Healthy CPS, our Healthy Mobile Vending Project works to provide education and support to schools and mobile food vendors at twenty-five K-8 elementary schools located on the Southwest side of Chicago.  Currently, a significant number of CPS students, primarily in predominately Latino communities, have access to a large variety of foods and beverages sold by mobile food vendors before and after school.   As such, this project primarily focuses on building the capacity of mobile food vendors to offer and sell healthy food items, by empowering them to understand the importance of topics such as healthy eating, nutrition labels, and recipes modifications.  The goal of the project is to increase the availability of healthy options available from mobile food vendors for these students. CLOCC works to achieve this goal through a number of intervention strategies including: offering training and technical assistance to vendors, engaging parents and students in nutrition workshops, launching a school based social marketing campaign that promotes healthy snacking, distributing educational and promotional materials and building community-wide support. Those strategies, as well as lessons learned from the project were discussed.

This was a great opportunity to not only share CLOCC’s walkability and mobile vending work, but also to learn about other important initiatives going on in Chicago that support Latino health (or salud in Spanish).   Want to know more about CLOCC’s work?  Contact Jaime at jarteaga@luriechildrens.org or Daney at deramirez@luriechildrens.org.

Supporting the Blueprint at Belmont-Cragin Elementary School

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Dennis Peters

By Dennis Peters, Guest Blogger

Dennis Peters is a physical education teacher at Belmont-Cragin Elementary School in Chicago.

Belmont-Cragin Elementary School is a PK-8 school located on the northwest side of Chicago.  We have 629 students in grades ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.  We have worked with CLOCC staff for the past several years in our efforts to meet the HealthierUS Schools Challenge.  (We have achieved Bronze status but are still working toward Gold!) In 2013, CLOCC released a ten-year plan for Chicago called the Blueprint for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention in Chicago: The Next Decade, and I read the schools recommendations with great interest.  They are in line with the work we are doing here at Belmont-Cragin, so I am happy to share our efforts to support the Blueprint recommendations here at our school.

Our Principal, Stacy Stewart, has always been a champion, recognizing that an improved Physical Education (P.E.) curriculum and getting students more active throughout the school day has academic benefits for the students.  She supported my initiative to adopt a new evidence-based P.E. curriculum that engages students in more moderate to vigorous physical activity than our previous curriculum did. This adoption of a more vigorous P.E. program supports Goal 1 for Schools in the Blueprint: Ensure all schools in Chicago support healthy eating and physical activity for students.

We have gone even further.  Here are just a few of the initiatives we have implemented that support Goal 1 of the Blueprint:

  • Daily classroom physical activity through a program that includes “deskercises” for our K-5 classes
  • A 20-minute walking program before ISAT testing last spring, including the distribution of water bottles to the students and education for the staff on the importance of water and exercise
  • Nutrition education and lunch menus that follow USDA requirements
  • A healthy celebrations policy so school and classroom celebrations are healthier
    for students

I attribute the trend toward health, wellness, and enhanced physical education in our school to strong leadership from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Student Health and Wellness. This office works to increase the quality of health services and wellness environments through collaboration, and has been assisting schools in enhance P.E. throughout Chicago.  Part of their focus has been on providing professional development for staff.  Since September 2012, the Physical Education Leadership Team (PELT), convened by CPS, has provided six professional development training days designed to familiarize teachers with enhanced P.E. and the neuroscience research supporting it.

Our health and wellness efforts have also been driven by the introduction of CPS’ 30+20+10 Program at our school.  This includes 30 minutes of daily P.E. for every student, 20 minutes of meaningful recess each day, and 10 minutes of physical activity in the classroom.  I have attended training for this entire program, and Mr. Pallante, one of our 7th grade teachers, is receiving training to be the coordinator of the classroom physical activity – or, as we like to call it, Movement Intervention.  All of these training efforts directly support Blueprint Objective 1-4: Increase capacity of school staff to implement physical activity and nutrition education strategies.

I am optimistic about the focus CPS has taken to enhance Physical Education, especially with the Chicago Board of Education’s passage of a new comprehensive P.E. policy in January of 2014.  However, I know many schools will face difficulties in light of CPS budget constraints.  We know we have to hire additional Physical Education teachers in order to have daily P.E. available to all students, and this could be a challenge.  While our resources may be tight, Belmont-Cragin is a school that has sought opportunities for collaboration and improvement and is seeing the results.

I encourage my students by showing them their improvements, and I make a big deal out of the strides that they make in their health and wellness.  I even showcase their achievements to the administration.  I am proud of my students, fellow staff, and administration at Belmont-Cragin for making student health and wellness a priority.  I am also proud that we are part of a larger citywide initiative to put Chicago children on a healthier path by supporting the CLOCC Blueprint.  I encourage other schools to join us and to share your efforts with CLOCC.  Together, we can accelerate progress in childhood obesity prevention in Chicago through this work!

Parts of this post were adapted from the Illinois Public Health Institute Belmont-Cragin Elementary School case study.  We thank them for permission to use this content.

Reflections on 2013

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Adam Becker

by Adam Becker, PhD, MPH, Executive Director

As 2013 comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for another wonderful year of partnership and collaboration. This was a year of great successes and advancements for obesity prevention in Chicago and beyond. We can all be proud of our many accomplishments. While there are far too many to list here, I wanted to share just a few highlights:

•   Our Blueprint for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention in Chicago: The Next Decade was released in January and was received with great enthusiasm. Over the first three quarters of 2013, CLOCC partner efforts have helped to advance 24 of the 48 objectives in the Blueprint, supporting 13 of the 17 total goals.

•   CLOCC led the development of recommendations for new requirements around nutrition, physical activity and screen time in licensed childcare, which were submitted to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services through the Illinois Early Learning Council. The proposed requirements were based on standards first adopted by the Chicago Board of Health in 2009 with support from CLOCC. We expect the new requirements to go into effect in July 2014.

•   CLOCC partners began working on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in 2010 under or federally-funded project, Healthy Places. In 2013, Healthy Places wound down but CLOCC staff continued to support 13 hospitals working toward Baby Friendly Designation. Hospitals across the city are setting policies and adopting practices that help women to breastfeed their babies from the moment of birth. With the great progress these hospitals are making, we anticipate at least one hospital will be designated in early 2014 making it the first Baby Friendly hospital in the City of Chicago.

•   CLOCC’s Community Programs Team trained over 20 community-based organizations on our Neighborhood Walkability Assessment Tool. Working in collaboration with the Active Transportation Alliance, we continue to support these organizations as they advocate for built environment improvements to increase access to safe opportunities for physical activity in their communities.

•   2013 also saw major additions to our collaborative work with Chicago Public Schools. We partnered with CPS’s Office of Student Health and Wellness on Healthy CPS to promote healthy school food environments through mobile vending and to evaluate their new three-year project to enhance physical education, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Carol White Physical Education Program Grant).

CLOCC’s success is really in its partners – CLOCC is all of us and none of our accomplishments would be possible without the commitment, energy, and passion of the thousands of people who comprise the consortium. These and the many more successes we have accomplished are largely due to all of your efforts across the city (and beyond) to support healthy lifestyles for children and families. We appreciate your hard work and commitment to ensuring that children and their families across our city, state, and nation have the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives for generations to come. We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and look forward to continued good work ahead in 2014!

Turning Wellness Policies into Action at a Healthy Teacher Network Workshop

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Rodney Tripplett

by Rodney Tripplett, School Programs Intern

On November 27, 2012, CLOCC’s Healthy Teacher Network hosted a workshop with the theme Wellness Policies into Action: Making Healthy Students Happen that was attended by teachers, counselors, and school nurses.  It began with a presentation of the highlights of the new Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Local School Wellness and Healthy Snack and Beverage policies from Annie Lionberger, CPS Senior Manager of Student Health and Wellness. This provided an opportunity for participants to gain a better understanding of the key requirements and guidelines of the new wellness policies. Participants also engaged in breakout sessions that focused on key components outlined in the wellness policy such as forming wellness teams, implementing activities to engage all students during recess, and integrating nutrition education into the school day. 

To provide tools for addressing the nutrition education requirement of the new CPS wellness policies, Rebecca Calendo, CLOCC Health Educator, facilitated a session focused on a nutrition and food access curriculum called Cultivating Change. This curriculum includes a series of lesson plans for middle school grades to develop students’ awareness of their food choices as well as food access and health issues that impact their communities. In the session, participants learned project ideas, recipes, and activities to launch a unit on food and health. 

Likewise, Urban Initiatives led an engaging session and dialogue on implementing activities to get students moving during recess. Play with Potential, a recess program developed by Urban Initiatives, includes games that are adaptable to a variety of spaces including outdoor fields, classrooms, and multi-use areas. Program Manager April Lillstrom encouraged school staff to engage all students in physical activity and emphasized the importance of recess as being safe, fun, and active as well as an opportunity to facilitate positive youth development. At the end of the session, participants experienced a sample of Play with Potential activities, gaining a better sense of how recess can be improved at their respective schools. 

Overall feedback on the workshop was very positive.  Participants particularly enjoyed the breakout sesson on how to initiate wellness councils. This included a success story from Kristen Janko, adult facilitator for Young Organizers Leading Others (YOLO) at Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy. YOLO tackles issues students want to address in the school and broader community. It began when students decided to raise funds to expand the school’s fitness center and add new equipment. YOLO has raised over $3,000 from fundraising efforts which include school health awareness dances, bake sales, and walk-a-thons. In the breakout, Kristen explained successes and challenges as well as tips for other schools wishing to replicate their work. Kristen strongly encouraged staff struggling to start a wellness council to involve youth, be open to their ideas, gain support from faculty and parents, and ensure student wellness groups are inclusive and accountable. 

As at past workshops, participants networked at the Resource Fair with a variety of community organizations that promote student wellness, healthy eating and physical activity. Twenty-one organizations participated – the largest number to date! Educators from the Lower West Side, North Lawndale, and Chicago Lawn/West Edison were among the most represented at the workshop, with many first time as well as returning staff.

The Healthy Teacher Network fall workshop provided tools to put the wellness policies into action, and we look forward to hearing how they help attendees to create healthier students throughout the city of Chicago.

Making Connections: Ten Years of Unique Partnerships

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Adam Becker

by Adam Becker, PhD, MPH, Executive Director

Welcome to the third quarter of our 10th anniversary year!  This quarter, we are focusing on one of the things that makes our consortium truly unique – the innovative partnerships that help us to span professional and geographical boundaries and take a holistic approach to confronting the childhood obesity epidemic in Chicago and beyond. 

In addition to the community-based organizations we highlighted last quarter, CLOCC also includes other segments of our community that are very engaged in our work and bring their own unique perspective.  These include our clinical, school, corporate, and advocacy partners.  From CLOCC’s beginning back in 2002, we recognized the importance of these segments and the importance of engaging them as we built our consortium.  In fact, the Clinical Practices, Government Policies and Programs, and School Systems Working Groups are among the original working groups from those early days!

The clinical perspective has always been a significant part of CLOCC’s focus and make-up.  Our founder, Dr. Katherine Kaufer Christoffel, was a pediatrician on staff at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital).  Her vision for the consortium grew out of her daily experience in her clinical practice – seeing increasing numbers of obese patients in the Nutrition Clinic she also founded.  Being based at Lurie Children’s meant that we were immersed and well-versed in the clinical significance of this epidemic. 

Also from the beginning, we recognized that we could not address childhood obesity without significant engagement with local neighborhood schools and Chicago Public Schools as a district.  Children spend a significant percentage of their day in schools, eat at least one and sometimes as many as three meals a day on school grounds, and thus schools are ideal places to educate children about healthy eating and physical activity and create daily opportunities for them to practice healthy behaviors.  Our partnership with Chicago Public Schools extends all the way back to 2003, when we worked with school nurses to gather student body mass index (BMI) data using the Illinois Child Health Examination Forms submitted by every child at school entry.  This project led to a significant event in CLOCC’s history – the release of the first-ever prevalence data for Chicago children ages 3 – 7 in December of 2003.  This release, which was front-page news in the city, alerted Chicagoans that the obesity rate among these young children in Chicago was 2 ½ times the national average, and it put CLOCC “on the map.”  This marked the beginning of a very productive relationship with CPS, and they remain engaged in CLOCC in very important ways.  In fact, one of the major pillars of our Healthy Places project involves a partnership with CPS and Healthy Schools Campaign to promote school wellness and help CPS schools achieve “gold status” in the HealthierUS School Challenge.  Over the years, we have also worked with charter schools, Head Start centers, and other settings where children learn and play, and these environments continue to be a significant focus in our work. 

The corporate sector is a group whose active engagement in CLOCC generates a lot of interest.  CLOCC established the Corporate Advisory Committee (CAC) in 2004.  The CAC provides an opportunity for CLOCC and for-profit leaders to understand and learn from each other regarding the challenges and opportunities for obesity prevention from a unique perspective.  The CAC also gives corporations a place at the table to explore and implement obesity prevention strategies using their unique skills and resources.  We understood early on that the corporate sector has a role to play, and we have relied on their vision, expertise, and enthusiasm to tackle this problem over the years.  The CAC supported the work that went into creating our public education message, 5-4-3-2-1 Go!®, and they continue to support our efforts to spread the message throughout the city and state by helping to fund training, outreach, and educational materials.  These relationships are not without challenges as public health and for-profit priorities are not always exactly “in sync,” but we remain committed to active engagement and cross-learning and firmly believe that all organizations have a role to play if we are truly going to turn the tide on childhood obesity in Chicago and across the nation. I want to take this opportunity to especially thank our 10th Anniversary Sponsor, BlueCross and BlueShield of Illinois, whose generous support is making special 10 year anniversary activities possible.  You can read more about these activities here.

Our policy and advocacy work brings together the efforts of multiple sectors to make sure that children (and the adults that care for them) have opportunities to eat healthy and be physically active where they live, work, learn, and play.  Policy and advocacy work is one of the original cornerstones of CLOCC’s work.  In 2005, our efforts resulted in the adoption of Public Act 093-0966, which created the Illinois Childhood Obesity Study and Prevention Fund.  Also at that time, we convened over 80 stakeholder organizations to create the Illinois Childhood Obesity Prevention Consensus Agenda, resulting in five legislative bills whose passage we supported, with four of them being adopted as Public Acts.  These acts put tighter parameters on physical education waivers that schools could seek, added a nutrition and physical activity agenda to the mandate of the Illinois Early Learning Council, created an Illinois Food Policy Council, and created the state mechanism for disseminating federal safe routes to school funds.  In 2006, CLOCC established the City of Chicago Inter-Departmental Task Force on Childhood Obesity (IDTF), led by the Chicago Department of Public Health.  Originally comprised of four city agencies, the IDTF has grown to include 11 city agencies, all working together to address the childhood obesity epidemic as a city by deploying resources in a coordinated way. 

These details just scratch the surface of all the ways that our consortium has engaged diverse partners from multiple sectors in Chicago and beyond.  And strong diverse partners is exactly what our consortium will continue to depend on as we look toward the work of the fourth and final quarter of this remarkable celebration of our 10 years together!  Look for a new post from me in October when I will talk about CLOCC’s vision for the future.  With a decade under our belts as a consortium focused on the childhood obesity epidemic, what do we think the next ten years should look like?  Our fourth quarter activities will focus on what promises to be an exciting and challenging future.  Talk to you again soon!

DePaul Students Enhance Evaluation, Schools, and Advocacy Work at CLOCC

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DePaul University sign

by Elizabeth Katta, Meredith Jones, and Carolyn Jillson, Guest Bloggers

For the past two years, CLOCC has served as a 9-month practicum site for Master of Public Health students from DePaul University. After participating in an application and interview process, the students are matched with a position and site supervisor. This year, we hosted three talented students: Elizabeth Katta, Evaluation Intern; Meredith Jones, Schools Intern; and Carolyn Jillson, Advocacy Programs Intern. We are very grateful for their contribution to our work and their reflections below demonstrate the experience was also meaningful for each student.

Elizabeth Katta – As CLOCC’s Research and Evaluation intern, I was excited to see how a data driven organization conducts research and shares its results with Chicago partners. Working with Dr. Maryann Mason, Community and Evaluation Research Director, and Sarah Welch, Evaluation Manager, provided me the opportunity to take part in various activities within the Consortium, including data collection, community trainings, and organizational meetings. One of my favorite experiences was a SOPLAY (System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth) training at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Sarah, Becca Calendo (CLOCC’s Health Educator) and I demonstrated a simple method to quantify activity in enclosed spaces. The fun, interactive activity demonstrated the Consortium’s dedication to providing useful services to their community partners. The bulk of my time at CLOCC was spent collecting data for my Capstone thesis, centered on an evaluation of CLOCC’s first breastfeeding study with the PCC Wellness clinic in the Austin community. I was able to see how community-based research is conducted as well have an opportunity to exercise my developing public health skills. My practicum time was invaluable because of these opportunities, and I hope to build upon the skills that CLOCC has helped me develop.

Meredith Jones – Serving as the School Systems Intern at CLOCC over the past year has afforded me the opportunity to understand the challenges and triumphs Chicago schools, teachers, principals, and PE teachers experience in sustaining a healthy classroom. Specifically through the Healthy Teacher Network, I enhanced practical skills such as event coordination and organized networking, evaluative skills when constructing instruments for program and workshop evaluation, and data collection and analysis as I compiled and streamlined large amounts of data on schools, individual teachers, and Chicago communities. Getting to know the structure and admirable objectives of the Healthy Teacher Network , which provides an environment conducive to teacher training and the exchange of valuable ideas for educators to use in their classrooms, will aid in my practice as a public health practitioner concerned with examining the structural determinants of health and coming to solutions for my community. The highlight of my time with CLOCC and the School Systems Working Group was the opportunity to interact directly with Chicago teachers who are passionate about implementing health-based strategies like physical activity breaks and nutrition education in their classrooms in order to improve the lives of their students. Their energy and devotion to the Healthy Teacher Network and CLOCC’s mission is truly contagious and emphatic.

Carolyn Jillson – I have really enjoyed working with CLOCC for my practicum at DePaul. I worked with Christine Bozlak, CLOCC’s Advocacy Program Manager, who provides technical assistance to the City of Chicago Inter-Departmental Task Force on Childhood Obesity (IDTF). I worked with CLOCC and IDTF to create a business plan for an IDTF Wellness Campus, a community-level intervention to coordinate and improve programing to improve health outcomes in neighborhoods with an especially high prevalence of childhood obesity. I found this project challenging, in that it required a big picture vision while I had to stay focused on the limitations of what is actually feasible. I learned a great deal about environmental approaches to complex health problems. Through this project I also became more familiar with a variety of governmental agency programs and partnerships and I was encouraged by the variety of effective and innovative programs and services currently being implemented in Chicago.

Thanks to our great DePaul practicum students for your enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work!  For more information on the Master of Public Health program at DePaul University, visit their website.

Promoting Health and Wellness at Jordan Elementary

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Claudia Olayo

by Claudia Olayo, Rogers Park Networker 

As the CLOCC Community Networker for the Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago, I have the chance to work with local schools to help promote health and wellness.  One that I have worked with is Jordan Elementary Community School.  Here are some examples of projects we have done together. 

In May 2010, Jordan School completed a Healthy School Environment Assessment facilitated by CLOCC staff. Some of the participants included school administration, teachers, parents, the school’s nurse, lunch room managers, and a few upper grade students.

After the results of the assessment were shared with the group, it was decided that the first step to address some of the issues identified was the creation of a School Wellness Council. Some of the aforementioned participants became the founding members and, voila! The Wellness Council was formed and has been meeting on a monthly basis. The team agreed the first issue to tackle was a lack of drinking water availability to the students during the school day; making drinking water more accessible to all Jordan students was the solution. The Wellness Council decided to use a small amount of grant money allocated from CLOCC to purchase water coolers/crocks in the shape of basketballs and soccer balls, which were approved by the student members of the Council, to be placed in the cafeteria and the gym. The coolers have been well received by parents and especially the students.

Another project the Wellness Council took on was the planning and realization of a Healthy Family Night, where a friendly game of Loteria, a Mexican version of Bingo, was to be played as an alternative to the usual unhealthy chocolate bar/candy sale fundraising.

The evening of March 24, 2011, 25 families turned out to take part in the Healthy Family Night. Parents and children alike participated in an interactive 25-minute bilingual presentation on CLOCC’s 5-4-3-2-1 Go! message. There was also a food demonstration in which a community volunteer engaged children in preparing a simple greens and quinoa salad with apples and walnuts. The parents and children enjoyed the salad and took home a copy of the recipe. That healthy hour showcasing the 5-4-3-2-1 Go! message was followed by an hour of Loteria where some won prizes, others learned a few words in Spanish, and all had fun!

For more information on 5-4-3-2-1 Go! and to see the free tools available for download, visit the CLOCC website.

Digging Into the Connection Between Gardens and Classrooms at a Healthy Teacher Network Workshop

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by Mara Lazdins, School Programs Intern

Learning how to plant vegetables in milk crates lined with burlap bags or how to integrate a science lesson into growing herbs, left a positive impression on teachers who attended Healthy Teacher Network’s third workshop in October, 2010.

For the first time, a school hosted the event, which gave teachers the opportunity to experience a school culture that encourages wellness, being active and eating healthy. At the workshop, which took place at Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), teachers toured the school grounds and learned how the teachers there incorporate the garden into all subjects including recess. Participants were also able to taste components of Chicago Public School’s recently revamped school lunch menu, which received positive reviews.

Like at past workshops, teachers were able to obtain resources on healthy eating and physical activity at the Resource Fair. Sixteen organizations were present offering tools, information, and other resources that teachers could take back to the classroom or implement within their school. Overall feedback revealed that participants enjoyed the school tour, garden, and learning about how AGC builds wellness and sustainability into the curriculum.

So far, over 80 schools have been represented at the three Healthy Teacher Network Workshops. These 80 schools represent 28 Chicago zip codes—with the highest number of teachers coming from West Town, Lower West Side/Bridgeport/McKinley Park, Logan Square and Rogers Park schools. Teachers have expressed that attending the Workshops has been an “invaluable networking opportunity”, “a great way to learn about what other teachers and other schools are doing”, and a way to gain “new ideas for their classrooms.”

For more information on the Healthy Teacher Network, visit its page on the CLOCC website.

HTNet.3.garden

Teachers enjoyed touring the school garden and hearing how AGC staff have incorporated it into classroom learning.

HTNet.3.resources

The Resource Fair was a great place to pick up information and hear about the work of neighborhood organizations.

Creating a Healthy Environment at Cameron School

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MaraL

Mara Lazdins

by Mara Lazdins, School Programs Intern 

Recently, Cameron Elementary School, located in West Humboldt Park, successfully completed CLOCC’s  Healthy School Environment Assessment, a tool that helps schools identify current practices, policies, and programs for promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Through the process, 16 staff, with assistance from CLOCC and the Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness, identified several areas for improvement. In the action plan, they outlined specific goals including: incorporate nutrition education into the classroom and expand opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day.

Cameron, a school with a population of over 1,000 students, does not have the space or capacity to offer physical education on a weekly basis for every child. However, the school does provide 20 minutes of recess daily for grades K-8. To address their concern that students were not getting enough exercise, Cameron staff immediately recognized recess as an opportunity to maximize students’ time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity, through structured, high energy activities.

On September 23, CLOCC staff (Health Educator Jill Zubrod, Community Networker Ed Boone, School Programs Coordinator Anna Barnes, and I) trained a group of four recess monitors and two physical education teachers on the 5-4-3-2-1-Go!™ message as well as games to promote the message. This was CLOCC’s first workshop specifically designed to support a school in implementing the message and activities into a school’s daily schedule, and it was received with high enthusiasm.

The group learned several games that could be incorporated into recess, and CLOCC provided the equipment and tools to enhance these activities such as hula hoops, buckets, jump ropes, and plastic food models. The participants also brainstormed solutions to some of their concerns with CLOCC staff and agreed to try some new methods and strategies over the next few weeks to address specific concerns. CLOCC will return to Cameron in a few weeks to visit a few recess sessions in action, gather feedback from the recess monitors and PE instructors, and provide ongoing technical assistance and support.

For more information on CLOCC’s school-focused work, contact Anna Browar at 312-227-7104 or abrowar@luriechildrens.org.