Our KIPPsters at KIPP Liberation College Preparatory Middle School are focusing on an all-around healthy lifestyle with new plans and initiatives implemented by school leader Tai Ingram. What does holistic health and wellness really look like on a middle school campus? Here are 4 steps to achieving a healthier school campus!
1. Physical Activity – Get your students intentionally moving and growing.
Every day, students participate in frequent and intentional physical activity, strength training, nutritional awareness, and/or daily mindfulness exercises. At Liberation, students have a 20-minute ZEN period and a 20-minute Energizer period as well as taking an enrichment course, playing intramural sports, and maintaining a weekly fitness log. In addition to school-day activities, Liberation also offers Mindfulness Mondays when all teachers, students, and their families are invited to participate in a yoga class taught by a University of Houston professor and fitness instructor. Similarly, the school provides Fitness Fridays which is a fast-paced exercise class.
2. Nutrition Education and Healthy Food – Involve students in their health.
KIPPsters at Liberation are required to complete 64 hours of community service and self-improvement activities each year. Fifteen of these hours must be engaged in researching, testing, and presenting nutritional health findings. In addition to the work done on their own, students also attend a health and wellness class using the Nutrition to Grow On curriculum. All students have access to free breakfast and no junk food or soda is allowed in the school café as well as being the first middle school to have a Brighter Bites partnership which provides fruits and vegetables, with healthy recipes, to families at no cost.
3. Parent Engagement – Engage the whole family.
Liberation currently offers Mamas in Motion program which allows mothers to use the school campus as a place to walk in the mornings and afternoons, complete with mile trackers. The school continues to grow their program and healthy initiatives with new opportunities coming soon. Liberation will host four Parent Learning Labs which provide parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to better support their children. A weekly newsletter will also be sent out to parents every Wednesday with a fitness and nutrition column.
4. Staff Engagement – It’s a team effort.
None of these efforts would be worth anything if the school’s staff wasn’t also on-board and excited about these initiatives. In addition to attending the exercise classes, every faculty member was provided with a FitBit to engage in weekly challenges with other faculty members. The Operations Team seems to be taking the challenges very seriously, accumulating approximately 27,000 steps each, each day, and of course bragging about their constant wins.
“I want my children to live,” Tai said. “I want them to have a healthy life, healthy body, and a healthy mind. I want to avoid them being a statistic so they can live to enjoy all of life’s choices that come along with a great education. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.”