Build a Winning Team
The background is in place, goals are set but the question is how do we accomplish what seems like a monumental task? “Taking action means joining together to promote improved nutrition and physical activity among our youth.” according to keynoter Jacquelyn G. Sowers, M.ED. Sowers noted that being a health promotion advocate in the current climate requires a reality check and a lot of friends. We need to arouse the village (our school and larger community) to the importance of committing resources (money, time, qualified professionals) to wellness. This is in the face of such looming issues as “no child left behind”, budget cuts, and security. That is where the friends come in…both recognized ones and still unknown ones! Our challenge in arousing the village and awakening the school is more attainable following these steps:
Prime the Pump- People have to have the facts before there is action. Get the facts and make sure they go to the right people.
Create a Buzz – Although decision makers have the final say it is the grassroots that can making the message a priority. Find ways to involve parents, community members, businesses as well as teachers, dietitians, physicians in making wellness a priority. Movies like Super size Me, health screenings as well as the media can help put the facts before the decision makers. Community based projects such as Jump Rope for Heart (American Heart Association) can help create a buzz while providing the worth of exercise and community service.
Go beyond “The Usual Suspects”. - In every village you know who should be on the team, who can help with the message. But stretch to include more than the “usual” team members.
· Senior adults (a large voting block and people who often care for and about children?
· Food industry, supermarkets, health clubs and other retailers.
· Policy makers and legislators…there is something in it for them!
· Faith based sources
Identify Local Norms and Needs – Every community; every school has their own profile. What’s yours? What do you know about the health profiles? What factors influence the food and activity choices in your community? And “who” are the influencers…the persons who are decision makers?
Activate the Youth - Youth will listen to other youth…we pay attention to people “just ahead of us”, about 10 years. Sowers noted that with children the right mix can be only 3 years ahead of them. But it is important these youth structure and information and valid information. Sowers suggests a cascading model of training the trainer using peer leaders, youth groups and clubs, Family and Consumer Science classes, parent and grandparent groups to reach others with a message of wellness.
Turn the Heads of School Administrators.