Creating a Healthy Environment at Cameron School

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 Barnes at 312-573-7766 or abarnes@childrensmemorial.org.

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