MASSENA — When it comes to health and wellness, the Massena Central School District takes the spotlight in a video produced by the St. Lawrence Health Initiative.

Sarah Bentley-Garfinkel, who works with the Health Initiative’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program, created the approximately four-minute video that highlights the district’s wellness successes. The video can be found at https://youtu.be/tb28MQgmNxc.

Superintendent Patrick Brady said the district formed a Wellness Committee that’s chaired by high school health teacher Matt McKinley, co-chaired by Kristin Colarusso-Martin and includes Mr. Brady, Ms. Bentley-Garfinkel, KC Hayes, Ryanne Araujo, Ryan Hayes, Amy Hornung, Peter Bertrand, Susan Macaulay, Sarah Boyce, Mike Matejcik, AnneMarie Miller, Duane Richards, Anthony Diagostino, Betty Robert, Paul Haggett, Jeff Slack and Michelle Trimboli.

“Back in 2005 the district received a grant through the Department of Health. This grant was implemented by the St. Lawrence Health Initiative. The district would focus on improving wellness in the district through three areas — nutrition, physical activity and revising the district’s wellness policies to improve those other areas of nutrition,” he said.

Over the past five years, the district has received $500 per school to purchase supplies and educational material that focus on wellness. They have purchased items such as physical education equipment and several pieces of equipment for use by students and the community on the John Story Trail.

“They can also do various activities on the equipment, such as pull-ups,” Mr. Brady said.

Other items that were purchased included bottle fill stations for the schools.

“Those have become very popular in order to promote hydration among our students,” he said.

The district is also promoting healthy foods in its food service program, and last year devoted a day of staff development to wellness activities.

Ms. Colarusso-Martin, the district’s Community Schools site coordinator, said the staff participated in activities such as Reiki, Jujitsu and Taekwondo.

“It was a full day of learning how to take care of yourself. The staff loved it,” she said.

The staff also indicated a desire for healthy items on the menu, and they’ve implemented a salad bar that’s offered every Tuesday for staff and students at the high school.

“There are also salads to go at Madison and Nightengale (elementary schools). The staff can order a salad and pick it up from Food Service,” Ms. Colarusso-Martin said.

Grant funding also allowed the district to incorporate fitness concepts like “energizer breaks” into the regular school day at the elementary schools.

“This past year we expanded a fitness center at the high school for the staff to use and added a CrossFit room as well. We have a CrossFit club after school. Certified teachers provide training to students, and some of our staff are also involved,” Mr. Brady said.

Another initiative was to start a healthy snack program last week for after-school hours at the high school. Students can grab a healthy snack such as a ham and cheese sandwich with milk, and the cost of the program is 100 percent reimbursable, he said. About 90 to 100 students a day take advantage of that initiative.

Mr. Brady said many after-school snack programs don’t work out because students can’t afford to pay, and they fall by the wayside.

“With this program, we’re very happy to see that immediately almost every day 100 students are getting snacks at the high school after school,” he said.

Ms. Colarusso-Martin said it not only gives the students a healthy snack, but they also develop healthy relationships, “making sure students know we care about them.”

A full list of district initiatives can be found on the district’s website at https://www.mcs.k12.ny.us/, under the “Staff” link.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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