HSC’s FitWorth and the Fort Worth Independent School District are promoting student well-being during 2021 Spring Wellness Challenge

By Diane Smith-Pinckney

Kids in classroom

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Independent School District teamed up to build healthier and safer communities in 2021.

HSC/FitWorth is working with the school district’s physical education department to introduce the Spring Wellness Challenge to an estimated 84,000 Fort Worth students.

“Speaking for the FWISD Health & Physical Education Department, I will say that we are eager to work alongside HSC Fort Worth for our district wellness initiatives this year,” said Cherrelle Tillis, Physical Education Curriculum Specialist for the school district.

“The partnership could not come at a better time, considering the pandemic and the effects it has had on our students, staff and families,” Tillis said.

HSC FitWorth is an initiative started by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and the City Council. It is supported by HSC with community corporate involvement.

“This past year has really shined a light on the importance of health and well-being in our community,” Mayor Price said. “I am encouraged by the work FitWorth is doing in collaboration with our schools to promote a culture of wellness that is impacting students and their circles of influence.”

As part of the challenge, students participate in two short surveys (pre/post-tests) and receive health education on topics such as nutrition, physical activity and mental health. Students complete a pre-test, brief lesson, optional brain break activities and then a post test.

Students/teachers spend about 10-15 minutes a month on the newly created health challenge.

The data is collected anonymously to gauge what students learned from the instruction.

The educational program was developed by HSC experts and will be incorporated into online and in-person lessons. Educators and staff (about 11,500) will also receive wellness education.

HSC/FitWorth added an incentive to the program – $50,000 for support supplies, monthly healthy luncheons for schools with the highest participation rates and grand prizes for the three schools with the most participation across all five months.

Elementary, middle and high schools with the highest participation will earn “wellness” makeovers through $10,000 in grand prizes.

One of HSC/FitWorth’s goal is to stream-line an online/digital format of the lessons to share with rural school districts that have no formal student or staff wellness programming.

HSC/FitWorth wants to make a positive impact on the community’s health and wellness.

HSC/FitWorth created a content schedule based on the district’s health curriculum. It also incorporates several topics deemed important by HSC experts.

Here is a schedule of health topics:

January: Mental Health

Content created by: Dr. David Farmer and Jessica Rangel

February: Physical Wellness

Content created by: Dr. Kathlene Camp

March: Injury Prevention

Content created by: John Sims and Katie Shanklin (SaferCare Texas)

April: Environmental Wellness

Sandy Bauman / Asthma 411

May: Nutrition

Content created by: Deborah Gillespie and Dr. Teresa Wagner

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