Four FWISD Teams Receive $5,000 Grants For Health and Well-Being Projects
Clever. Innovative. And sometimes downright adorable.
That’s how competition judges described the Shark Tank- style pitches from eight area school teams competing January 25 for grant funding to support proposed student-led, campus-based health and well-being initiatives inspired by Blue Zones Project.
Four Fort Worth ISD schools—Daggett Montessori, Applied Learning Academy, Leadership Academy at Como Elementary and Westcliff Elementary made top grades, with each campus earning a $5,000 Wellness Innovation grant.
Students strutted their creativity before a selection committee of local educators and wellness experts—and an enthusiastic fan base—to earn top honors. From dance videos and newscasts, to yoga poses and skits, each team made its case for the grant funding, provided by R4 Foundation, which funds local programs supporting education, community, wellness and the arts.
“Implementing better health practices sometimes comes down to resources,” said Blue Zones Project Vice President Matt Dufrene. “This grant opportunity provides Blue Zones Project schools with necessary funding to make these fantastic projects come to life.”
Daggett Montessori Student Council members want to increase student engagement by creating new opportunities to expand their “Dragon Wings” (Wellness Innovation Nature Growth Spirit) theme around campus, including positive messages on the school’s walls, a painted hopscotch court and a natural playground scene, which contains space to run and play outdoors with elements of nature that can be moved and manipulated.
The Leadership Academy at Como Elementary Student Council members described their project as empowering students and the community to improve overall healthy lifestyle skills. Their ideas include trampoline fitness, drumfit, yoga, and line dancing through use of computers, trainers and the gym, to support both physical activity and nutrition. Efforts involve recruiting staff and community members to lead activities, tracking fitness activities through the use of pedometers, supporting monthly food demonstrations and fitness evenings and adding yoga and meditation during and after the school day to promote mindfulness.
Applied Learning Academy’s Blue Zones Wellness Ambassador Advisory team, a daily class of 23 seventh and eighth graders, hopes to empower students to take ownership of their health and eating habits. The team proposed purchasing portable cooking carts to make teaching healthier eating habits and cooking skills more fun. The school has 35 students who hold food handler’s licenses, and they will lead cooking sessions for their peers and family members a few times a year. Teachers will also be able to incorporate healthy cooking skills in their classrooms. Students said funding will support the purchase of equipment to film and post healthy recipe cooking videos, using vegetables harvested from the school garden. They also plan to host a Family Wellness Day or Evening at Camp Carter to give families an opportunity to get outdoors and move naturally through a variety of options led by students.
The Student Council at Westcliff Elementary will use its funding to create an annual, ongoing series of four healthy living themed events. Coordinated by student leaders, the events will bring Westcliff Elementary families together to learn and engage in deeply meaningful activities to develop students in four areas: expression through the arts, exercise and fitness, nutrition and health, sports and the outdoors. The goal for the project is to foster relationships among area families and educate school staff and families on healthy eating, activities, and resources available to them in the community.
Four other schools competing at the January 25 pitch—Christene C. Moss Elementary, Western Hills Elementary, Oakhurst Elementary and Keller-Harvel Elementary—each earned $2,000 in funding to support their projects. The eight teams were selected to compete from among 17 schools that originally submitted applications for the wellness grants.
The competition was held in partnership with North Texas Healthy Communities, the community outreach arm of Texas Health Resources that implements Blue Zones Project in Fort Worth. The student groups must launch their projects by June 1, 2020.