It just makes sense that healthy kids make better students, and that common sense is now anchored in scientific research.
It also is the guiding principal behind the Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI), a comprehensive collection of school-based health and wellness services found in 12 local schools with support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF). They Include Winter Park High School and its elementary and middle feeder schools.
From its earliest days, WPHF has been focused on the health of children and youth, and in 1998, it began building the CYI initiative with the creation of its CHILL (Community Help & Intervention in Life’s Lessons) mental health counseling program.
CYI, made possible through a unique partnership with Orange County Public Schools, now also includes the School Nursing Initiative, School-Based Health Centers staffed by nurse practitioners, and Healthy School Teams.
WPHF has invested more than $14 million in the free services all in an effort to help students be the healthiest and most academically productive possible.
Program evaluations continually demonstrate that when students have access to counseling professionals, nurses and nurse practitioners at school who are readily available to address student health needs they miss less class time and are more productive. This in turn contributes to better academic success.
In addition, there is a new emphasis on healthy foods and activities in schools as a result of the work of the HSTs. And because of their success, the HSTs now serve as a model for all of the other public schools in Orange County. The OCPS School Wellness Policy requires each of its 180 plus schools to develop a Healthy School Team.
The HSTs are modeled after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Coordinated School Health model. Made up of school staff, administrators, parents and sometimes students, the HSTs plan programs that promote healthy lifestyles and behaviors at their schools.
The success of the programs has brought local, state and national attention. The Foundation received a Florida Education Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award for the CYI programs. During the 2008-2009 school year, WPHF received the Sunshine State School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA) Leading Light Award and the Dr. P. Phillips Champion of Youth Award presented by the Central Florida YMCA. In addition, WPHF in May 2009 received the Special Judges Award at the annual Orange County Public Schools ADDitions School Volunteers and Partners in Education Recognition Event.
Read more about the programs by going to www.healthykidstoday.org, a website created and maintained by WPHF. The website, updated weekly, also features health news and tips for families as well as healthy recipes, videos, school information, and useful resources.
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