What it Means to be a Healthy Panther

Submitted By: Julie Cutting | Woodland Park Re-2 School District

Background:
In beautiful Woodland Park, Colorado, at the foot of Pikes Peak, is Woodland Park High School (WPHS). WPHS is one of six schools in the Woodland Park School District (WPSD) and has 700 students, or Panthers, as they are often referred to by the principal, school staff, and surrounding community.

The Challenge:
According to Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data, Panthers (WPHS students) are not eating breakfast and have poor nutrition. Additional school data shows that Panthers need assistance with exercise and self-care, and that Panthers are not consistently attending class.

The Solution:
Because of this data, WPHS students along with their Woodland Park District Wellness team leaders started a Student Wellness Team for Panthers to learn how to positively advocate for their own health, fitness, and nutrition during a twice-a-week Advisory class period. The focus of WPHS Student Wellness Team is to grow healthy, mindful, successful students, and so, as part of Advisory, students are provided time to self-advocate, prepare healthy snacks, play board games, socialize with peers, meditate and practice mindfulness, practice yoga, journal, walk, and work on art projects. Advisory is also used to teach and discuss coping skills amongst the Student Wellness Team members.

Because of COVID-19, during this time of remote learning, WPHS has included meditation links, exercise workouts, and other resources to allow students to grow personally at home. Google Classroom has also been used to post recipes every week for students to practice good nutrition and food preparation at home.

The Outcomes:
Students are learning what it means to be a Healthy Panther. Students are making healthy, positive choices for self-care (meditation, journaling, cooking, exercise), and have learned leadership and advocacy skills. The Student Wellness Team became more aware of their whole self- physically, mentally and emotionally. Students had increased energy and better attention during class. Furthermore, WPHS was able to adapt during remote learning and continue to provide students with the resources they needed to practice self-care, exercise, and proper nutrition at home.

The Conclusion and Lessons Learned:
Students need to be reminded and provided opportunities to practice skills for stress management, coping with anxiety and depression, and self-advocacy, and they need a safe place in which to do these things. Students also need dedicated time in school to learn and practice healthy eating and exercise habits. By creating a Student Wellness Team as a part of an Advisory class period, WPHS was able to give students the experience and advocacy they needed to address their challenges during school hours (as well as virtually at home in the Google Classroom).

Next Steps for Sustainability:
WPSD wants to continue to increase student attendance by ensuring all students feel connected to their school, their community, and have a sense of belonging. WPSD also wants to increase student knowledge of self-care, coping strategies, good nutrition and exercise. The results of the Student Wellness Team demonstrated this is possible. WPHS plans to share results with the Woodland Park School District Board of Education in hopes that students can start wellness teams at the Woodland Park Middle School and Elementary School.

To learn more about the WPHS Student Wellness Team, contact:
Julie Cutting, WPSD Wellness Coordinator, jcutting@wpsdk12.org, 719-686-2001
Cat Becker, WPHS CO-Leader Wellness Team, cbecker@wpsdk12.org
Nicole Cherry, WPHS Co-Leader Wellness Team, ncherry@wpsdk12.org

What it Means to be a Healthy Panther Photo 1
WPHS Student Wellness Team assembling journals and enjoying healthy snacks, as they learn and practice good nutrition and self-care.
What it Means to be a Healthy Panther Photo 2
WPHS Student Wellness Team working on art projects. Look at the Panther bond!
What it Means to be a Healthy Panther Photo 3
WPHS Student Wellness Team making healthy snacks and journals during Advisory. Panthers sharing and caring for each other.

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