We believe that children can be successful in school by ensuring that their strengths and needs are equally supported.
Helping children put their best foot forward: City Connects & the New Balance Foundation Health & Wellness Program
Students living in high-poverty urban neighborhoods suffer disproportionately from chronic illness and health risks and may lack access to opportunities to learn about healthy choices. With the support of the New Balance Foundation, City Connects developed a systematic approach to student support that incorporates children’s health as a core component and promotes wellness in all students.
Traditionally, student support programs have emphasized emotional and behavioral issues. While these are integral elements of student support, we believe that addressing a child’s overall health and well-being is essential. Unique to City Connects is a special focus on health that has been made possible over the past seven years by our partnership with the New Balance Foundation, whose mission echoes our commitment to improving the health and wellness of Boston’s children.
In addition to focusing on the health needs of each child and connecting him/her to a uniquely tailored set of services in the community, City Connects also promotes healthy lifestyles across entire schools. The New Balance Health and Wellness Program teaches students how to make healthy choices both in and outside of the classroom as well as bring awareness of health and wellness to teachers and other school staff through comprehensive health programs.
City Connects School Site Coordinators:
- Identify Individual Student Health Needs
Every School Site Coordinator receives intensive training on collaborating with the school nurse to identify children’s health needs, which is reinforced in professional development sessions throughout the year.
- Engage Community Health Providers
Our Coordinators engage partners in the community to provide school-based health services and enrichment activities for students. They also develop and manage relationships with agencies that promote skills essential to pursuing a healthy lifestyle outside of the classroom, like exercise and nutrition.
- Support School-wide Health Initiatives
School Site Coordinators play a key role in the health and wellness agenda of schools. When participating on School Wellness Councils, which are mandated in all Boston schools, Coordinators introduce innovative programs, such as the annual Health Week celebration. These opportunities to increase health literacy translate into better student behavior, work habits, and effort.
- Facilitate a New, Innovative Health Curriculum
The New Balance Foundation Healthy Life Skills Curriculum has four flexible modules grounded in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for coordinated school health programs: physical activity and exercise, nutrition, bullying and social relationships, and healthy choices/prevention that are age- and culturally-appropriate for students in grades 2 through 5.
Healthy Life Skills Curriculum
All four units of the Healthy Life Skills Curriculum are available in two versions: one for use in a classroom and one revised for use in a small group setting. The units are:
- Let’s Eat Healthy: This nutrition unit teaches students the importance of healthy eating and empowers them to make healthier chooses by balancing foods from all food groups, reading food labels, and being aware of marketing techniques used to influence their decisions.
- Let’s Take Care of Ourselves & Each Other: This social/emotional unit teaches students to treat themselves and others with kindness and respect by introducing and discussing topics like self-esteem, empathy, conflict resolution, and anti-bullying strategies.
- Let’s Get Moving: This physical activity unit teaches students about the importance of being physically active by presenting the many physical and emotional benefits, a variety of ways to be active, and ideas for how to have fun while getting moving.
- Let’s Make Healthy Choices: This personal health and safety unit teaches students to make good choices throughout their lives by encouraging them to be safe around medicine and household poisons, get enough sleep, prevent concussions, avoid tobacco and alcohol, and recognize the difference between positive and negative peer pressure.
For more information on the Healthy Life Skills Curriculum, please contact Alison Stahl, Director of Implementation.