PGCS Health Fair – “It began with a simple question…”
It began with a simple question…
By: Janet Michalowski, RN, BSN, CSN, Director of Nursing
“How do we kick off the healthy school initiative in the new school year?” This simple question posed by P.G. Chambers School Principal Heather Gilliland prompted my idea to sponsor our first Back to School Health Fair. The idea was received with much enthusiasm and a date was immediately set, September 16, 2017.
After attending a nursing conference on the “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child” conducted by the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing/Rutgers University, my plans for a simple event flew out the window on my drive home. I was eager to apply for one of the $10,000 grants available for schools to use on new health initiatives. All I could think of was the great health incentives we could offer to our families, students, and staff. The challenge was timing; the grant was due in a few short weeks. With the help of Andrea Quigley, Director of Development, and Heather the grant was written and submitted. We were soon awarded the grant and got to work implementing our plans for the health fair.
My simple answer to Heather’s simple question turned into the Whole Child Health Initiative. On September 16, 2017, P.G. Chambers School’s Back to School Health Fair included participation of over 50 staff members who spent many hours planning and executing the event.
Our community members were just as excited about the day as we were. We welcomed Children’s Specialized Hospital; Kidz World Dental; Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund; Studio Yoga; Special Child Health Services; Bayada Nurses; Monica Hansen, Dietitian from Shop Rite of Greater Morris; Sandee Moretta; Happy Hearts Dance; Bikes On; and Freedom Concepts.
We utilized the whole school for activities, music, dance, yoga, massages, relaxing singing bowls, rock painting, healthy food sampling, blood pressure screening, information tables on health and wellness, social service agencies, and recreation opportunities.
A highlight of the day was the adaptive bike riding in the Elm Street parking lot! The day ended on a high note with raffling many donated gifts from Lifetime Fitness of Berkeley Heights; Shop Rite of Morris Plains; Kings in Summit; Kings in Gillette; Summit Mom’s Group; Karen Kuran and Nicole Nilan.
The health fair might be over, but the healthy school initiative is just beginning. The 2016-17 P.G. Chambers School Leadership group focused on staff wellness with fitness apps, recipe exchanges, and motivational activities. Monica Hansen, a dietitian employed by our local Shop Rite, presented healthy nutrition choices to the staff at an in-service on September 5. We formed a task force to accomplish the goals outlined in the nursing grant by June 15, 2018. These goals include developing and implementing individual student fitness plans, preparing newsletters on health issues for our web page, scheduling workshops for parents, assessing the vending machine choices in the staff café, and developing nutritional guidelines for middle school students as they plan and prepare their Friday Middle School Café delicacies.
A simple question with a simple answer started a whole school community on the road to health and wellness! Thank you to everyone who helped make P.G. Chambers School’s Back to School Health Fair a tremendous success!