WeTHRIVE! schools in action

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, WeTHRIVE!℠ school districts kept moving forward with their health and wellness initiatives. School wellness teams evaluated policies, practices, and programs, taking action to make their schools healthier and safer for students and staff.

Here’s a look at what some WeTHRIVE! school districts accomplished in the 2021-22 school year.

North College Hill (NCH) City Schools

Terrie Shaw standing.

North College Hill’s school wellness team is led by Terrie Shaw, district nurse. During the 2021-22 school year, the team updated the district’s wellness policy and organized staff and student health and wellness activities.

Wellness policy updates include:

  • Making water filling stations available in all cafeterias
  • Ensuring training/continuing education for all school nutrition personnel
  • Smart Snacks nutrition standards for foods/beverages offered at school

To promote the wellness team, bulletin board displays (pictured at right) were put up in each school building.

Bulletin board display.

Staff wellness activities included:

  • Biggest Loser (fall and spring)
  • UC Health Mobile Mammography
  • CPR/First Aid training with NCH Fire Department
  • Staff appreciation day with healthy snacks and smoothies

Wellness Week

A highlight of the school year was Wellness Week, which included five days of special activities for NCH staff and students. Terrie and her team brought in guest speakers from the community, including several WeTHRIVE! partners.

Wellness Week activities for NCH Middle and High Schools included:

  • Zoom sessions conducted by NAMI Southwest Ohio (a WeTHRIVE! partner)
  • Education from 1N5 and OSU Extension (WeTHRIVE! partners)
  • Anti-vaping education (completed by Terrie Shaw, RN)
  • Walk it Out Wednesday: staff walked with students as they left school for the day
  • Safety Awareness with NCH Fire Department
  • Meditation and relaxation tips
  • Fresh Fruit Friday

Wellness Week activities for NCH Elementary School included:

  • Meditation/relaxation techniques (breathing breaks throughout the day)
  • Lunchtime stretches 
  • Half mile walk after lunch
  • Safety Awareness with NCH Police Department
  • Fresh Fruit Friday

Terrie says the mental health component of Wellness Week was especially impactful. “Teachers came to me interested in working more with NAMI,” she said. “They said the reaction from some kids during the NAMI Zoom session let them know that this is something that is needed.”

Reading Community City Schools

Reading has two school wellness teams (elementary and junior/senior high), both led by Stephanie Glad, wellness and community outreach coordinator for the district.

Staff Wellness Fair

This year, the junior/senior high school wellness team organized a Wellness Fair for all staff members. Local vendors and non-profit organizations (such as WeTHRIVE! partners 1N5 and OSU Extension) provided information about all aspects of physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as biometric screenings.

The most popular part of the Staff Wellness Fair turned out to be a visit from Copper, a therapy dog with Pet Partners of Greater Cincinnati.

“There’s a bunch of different of research about therapy dogs, but one of the things is just their presence is shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression,” Stephanie said. “So that was a big thing that we wanted to focus on this year, just with all the mental health needs.”

Boy with Cooper, a therapy dog.

Pet therapy pilot program

Copper made such an impact that the wellness team conducted a pet therapy pilot program with students in May as part of Mental Health Awareness Month.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive from students and staff, so we’re excited to continue our work with Pet Partners next school year and grow the program at Reading,” Stephanie said.

Wellness Week

To finish up the school year, the elementary school wellness team organized Wellness Week for students and staff. Wednesday of that week coincided with National Bike & Roll to School Day, which allowed the team to incorporate some of their Safe Routes to School work into the activities.

The wellness teams also continued to collaborate with the city of Reading’s WeTHRIVE! team by promoting the Reading Farmer’s Market as part of the week.

Schedule of Wellness Week activities.

Three Rivers Local Schools

Three Rivers’ wellness team is led by Megan Baker Rivet, director of student services. The team’s 2021-22 work focused on staff wellness.

Healthy bingo challenge card.

Hydration challenge

For the hydration challenge, staff received information about the importance of drinking water and how much water they need to drink per day. They then kept track of their water intake for a set period of time. Winners for each building received special water bottles.

Staff bingo challenge

For the bingo challenge, each square on the special bingo card has a healthy activity to do.

Staff members who accomplished five of the challenge boxes in a row could enter a drawing. Winners received duffle bags.

Last day of school

The wellness team also provided healthy breakfast options for staff on their last day of school.

Winton Woods City Schools (WWCS)

The WWCS wellness team is led by Steve Denny, executive director of the Office of Business Affairs for the district. He says one of the main accomplishments for the team was revising the district’s wellness policy.

Like all WeTHRIVE! school districts, WWCS completed the WellSAT assessment to determine how their wellness policy compares to best practices and federal guidelines.

“We now have a wellness policy now that’s much more aligned to things that the research tells us actually work in schools for kids and staff,” Steve said.

Two middle school age girls standing on an outdoor track.

Key revisions to the wellness policy include:

  • Ensuring that students in grades K through 9 receive health and nutrition education as part of the health curriculum (this increases the number of grade levels that give instruction around health).
  • Providing at least 20 minutes of active daily recess to all preK-6th grade students.
  • Prohibiting the use of food as a reward (teachers are provided a list of alternative, non-food rewards).

Wellness priorities set

The wellness team also began revision of the district’s Wellness Priorities document.

Like other WeTHRIVE! school districts, WWCS wellness team used the School Health Index Assessment to determine wellness priorities for 2022-25, which are:

  • Continue the work around Safe Routes to School and active transportation
  • Continue the Nutrition is the Mission wellness bus (wellness and meal delivery program)
  • Build programs that promote health and wellness for school staff
  • Develop partnerships with community healthcare providers
  • Connect students to community organizations that promote health and wellness