Culture of Good Health Grows at Morning Star School

MS Chicken Coop and GardenWhen students at Morning Star school return to class August 17, they’ll have access to a new demonstration kitchen, an exercise area for students and staff, and a café area where they can learn job skills needed for employment in the hospitality industry.

The latest additions to the school, which serves special needs students, are the result of an effort to create a lasting tribute to former Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) Trustee Mary Rumberger who passed away in 2013.

WPHF Trustees decided to honor Ms. Rumberger by awarding Trustee Discretionary Grant funds to help build a culture of health and wellness on campus because of her longtime dedication to the school and its students.

The funds initially were used to underwrite the establishment of a school clinic–the Mary Rumberger Healthy Kids Clinic. The response was so positive, support spread to other activities and projects, including the development of a school garden where students have helped harvest vegetables and fruit. Chickens also are raised in the garden area. Classes rotate taking care of the chickens and weeding in the garden.

Students were sent home with recipes that incorporated the vegetables they harvested, according to Morning Star School administrator Mary Kelly.

Once the demonstration kitchen is constructed and operational, all of the students will be harvesting the vegetables and working with local chefs on campus to learn to prepare food from their harvest. Local chefs have been contacted and are excited to work with the students.

In addition, demonstration kitchen classes also will be offered to parents and guardians, staff and anyone else who would like to learn more about cooking for a healthy lifestyle.

The demonstration kitchen will also be used to educate those students living in the soon to be renovated “transition home.” The transition home will host students who have aged out of Morning Star School and other schools, and will provide them life and job skill opportunities. The home will teach them about living in and maintaining a home/space of their own.

These students will also learn to incorporate garden activities into healthy lifestyle choices.

Morning Star staff members also have been hard at work completing the Nemours Healthy Habits for Life Wellness Policy Workbook. The staff is analyzing all aspects of their health and wellness programming to identify best practices and gaps in services. Once the Wellness Policy Workbook is complete, the staff will work with Nemours to review it and look at best practices for special needs populations. This will lead to the creation of a wellness policy poster to be displayed by the first day of classes on August 17th, according to Sarah Stack, WPHF Consultant, who is working with Morning Star School on all of these health enhancements.