Winter Park Health Foundation’s (WPHF) legacy program, the Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI), a collection of school-based physical and emotional health and well being services, provides critical resources needed to positively impact the health and wellness of Winter Park Consortium (WPC) students’ and families. Programming under the CYI includes behavioral health counseling, school nurses, nurse practitioners in School Based Health Centers, and Healthy School Teams which guide the culture of health and wellness at each school. CYI programs are funded by WPHF for children and youth attending the 12 Orange County Public Schools campuses serving students from Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville.
Community Health & Intervention in Life’s Lessons (CHILL Counseling Program)
During the 2016-17 school year, 1,133 students were enrolled in the Community Help & Intervention in Life’s Lessons (CHILL) program. CHILL is a free behavioral health counseling program for students of all ages who need help with issues such as anxiety, dealing with change, coping skills and stress management. CHILL counselors focus on prevention and early intervention with the goal of being able to address a student’s issue before a clinical diagnosis and advanced treatment are needed.
Most students participate in the CHILL program for twelve weeks, although some students complete counseling in less time and others stay longer in services with approval. Of the 1,133 students who received counseling this past school year, 709 were elementary students, 179 were middle students and 245 were high school students. Parents remain the most common source of referrals to the program for their children; 20% of referrals were from teachers and 17% from students themselves. The number of students requesting counseling continues to trend up, especially in regard to interacting with others in face-to-face settings, which may be a reflection of the high degree of online social media usage. If needed at the close of a counseling session, CHILL counselors will refer students to other resources for continued support. Last year, counselors made 662 referrals to other mental health professionals, 66 medical referrals, 94 community referrals (for example to United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline) and 205 in-school referrals.
During the 2016-17 school year, the top reasons for participation in CHILL were dealing with feelings (sadness, anxiety, worry), anger management, stress management, coping skills, self-control and dealing with change (grief and loss, family changes, moves). CHILL counselors were very busy, providing 8,170 individual counseling sessions, 2,227 group sessions and 3,277 family sessions. The counselors were also called to respond to students in crisis, even if they are not enrolled in the CHILL program. Last year, counselors provided 1,053 crisis intervention services. Often, a crisis occurs when students become emotionally dysregulated from stressors like academic pressure, peer relationships and family issues.
Finally, CHILL counselors provide important information to teachers and faculty, students and families on a broader scale. During the 2016-17 school year, CHILL impacted 45,518 students, 1,625 teachers and 3,478 parents via educational presentations. Through a grant from the Aetna Foundation and in partnership with the Hawn Foundation, many of the presentations were focused on the topic of mindfulness.
School Nursing Initiative
The School Nursing Initiative (SNI), which helps to place a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) in each of the 12 WPC schools, recorded 41,544 student visits to school nurses during the 2016-17 school year. Care for illness, the provision of medications, treatment for accidents/injuries and help with medical procedures are the top reasons for visits to the nurses’ clinics. Examples of procedures include blood glucose monitoring, nebulizer treatments, and NG tube feedings. As a general trend, nurses report students coming to their clinics withmore acute needs than in the past, due to chronic illnesses such as Type II diabetes. The nurses were able to maintain a high return to class rate of 92% – a key measure for ensuring students are able to stay in school and learn. For the upcoming school year, the SNI will welcome two new nurses to the WPC schools at Brookshire and Lakemont Elementary Schools.
School-Based Health Centers
The School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) at Glenridge Middle School and Winter Park High School are made possible through WPHF grant support. The SBHCs are staffed by licensed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), who specialize in pediatrics, through Healthcare Providers of Florida, the group charged with oversight of the nurses and nurse practitioners (a subsidiary group, Healthcare Providers & Associates, oversees and staffs the CHILL program). The ARNPs are able to diagnose and write prescriptions, saving parents time and providing peace of mind that their child can be seen in a timely fashion at no cost. The SBHCs serve all children ages birth to 18 years who live in the Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park communities. The nurse practitioners provide free school entry and sports physicials. Call for an appointment – Glenridge Middle SBHC 407-623-1415, ext. 5072245 or Winter Park High SBHC (407) 622-3200 ext. 6182437.
During the 2016-17 school year, the ARNPs provided a total of 6,581 services. Information on health insurance status is collected every year. There were slightly fewer students with private insurance during this past school year (54% in 2015-16 compared with 52% in 2016-17), but an increase of 3% was seen in students with Medicaid coverage. 18% of students reported having no insurance as compared with 20% during the 2015-16 school year. The goal of the SBHCs is to serve children and families with challenges relating to accessing needed health care (e.g.; high copays or deductibles, transportation challenges, issues with arranging timely appointments, etc.).
As part of the Aetna Foundation mindfulness grant, both the nurses and the nurse practitioners were provided “Calm Down Kits” to help students in the school clinics and SBHCs cope with anxiety, as often students may be feeling poorly in a physical way, however the cause may be emotional. They were also provided books on mindfulness to help incorporate strategies into their clinics. The nurses and counselors work hand-in-hand to ensure students have the tools they need to be both physically and emotionally healthy at school.
Healthy School Teams
Healthy School Teams (HSTs) are based on the Center for Disease Control’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model, which is a multi-disciplinary approach to health and wellness. They involve key school staff such as the nurse, CHILL counselor, cafeteria manager, physical education teacher, administrative leadership and, often, those with a passion for health, along with parents and other community members to support health at the school through promotion, messaging, materials and events. A HST leader is identified at each school and supported by the WPHF in reaching the school’s goals.
During the 2016-17 school year, eleven of twelve WPC schools applied for certification as an award-winning school by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s voluntary Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC). HUSSC nationally recognizes schools at the Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold of Distinction award levels for 1) serving school lunches that reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; 2) restricting the availability of foods and beverages at school to those that meet healthier guidelines of lower fat, added sugars, and sodium; 3) offering nutrition education for students to learn to make healthy choices; and 4) providing physical education and opportunities for students to be physically active during the school day.
HST leaders celebrated the successes within their schools, especially around healthy eating and physical activity. Collectively, the HST leaders report making strides within their schools in healthy eating, specifically healthy snacking and increased nutrition education. They also reported increased participation in after-school physical activity opportunities, walk and bike to school programming, and physical activity based fundraisers.
This past spring semester, each HST leader worked with his or her school to celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week. Every Kid Healthy Week is an annual observance created to celebrate school health and wellness achievements. Observed the last week of April, this special week shines a spotlight on the great efforts our school partners are making to improve student health and wellness and the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning – because healthy kids are better prepared to learn! From garden harvesting to smoothie taste testing, local students and staff celebrated the importance of healthy students. Also during this past school year, working with the CHILL counselors, HST leaders had a specific focus on mindfulness. Many HST leaders chose to utilize HST activity grant funding from the WPHF to provide mindfulness activities for staff including serenity rooms, yoga, stress relief classes, and mindfulness tools for their classrooms.
To learn more about the Healthy School Teams and all of the Coordinated Youth Initiative programs supported by WPHF, please visit Healthy Kids Today.