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    School leaders and community partners gathered Tuesday morning at Jepson School to announce the release of the School Wellness Manual, a guide for schools that includes policies, recommendations and resources to make schools healthier learning environments. The manual is available in schools and online at www.nhps.net.

    Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries and District Wellness Committee Co-Chairs Will Clark, chief operating officer for the district, and Sue Peters, director of Coordinated School Health, joined Jepson Principal Lesley Stancarone as well as community partners, students and parents to release the Wellness Manual and to highlight one of the manual's recommendations to use nonfood items for school celebrations. This year, Jepson has started a Birthday Book Club to celebrate student birthdays without using food, and the school community has embraced the idea.

    The Wellness Manual offers ideas, recommendations and policies to promote physical activity, healthy eating, resources for behavioral health and family support and health education. The rollout of the new manual is happening at every school in the district and will include posters and flyers to promote the recommendations and policies described in the manual. Each school will have copies of the manual for staff and parents to use and the manual will be available on the district website, www.nhps.net.

    "Healthy kids are the best learners. So it's fundamental to School Change that we support the health and wellness of all of our students. The Wellness Manual is an important resource that will help schools create healthy learning environments and help parents and staff work together to give all kids a chance to rise to bright futures," Superintendent Harries said.

    "Wellness Committee and non-curricular departments recognize the connection between healthy schools, healthy food, healthy students and student achievement. Through the Wellness Manual, the new Health Curriculum our schools and partners are leading the way to educate the whole child," Clark said.

    "The district recognizes the profound impact that mental and physical health has on student wellbeing, learning and life outcomes. School staff and parents are the primary role models for students throughout childhood, when lifelong health habits are formed. The School Wellness Manual provides concrete strategies to create healthier school environments with consistent messages for staff, students and parents that support health and learning, and the practice of healthy behaviors from everyone, not just students," Peters said.

    Also on hand for the release were members of the District Wellness Committee, which worked over several years to create the Wellness Manual. This District Wellness Committee is a diverse group of representatives from the school district and the community, who collaborate to develop an annual School Wellness Plan with policies and recommendations to make schools safe, supportive and healthy environments for all students, staff and families. The new concise 'School Wellness Manual' describes what is mandated or recommended in schools, and has resources to facilitate implementation.

    New Haven Public Schools recognize that students must have good physical and emotional health in order to learn in class and succeed in school. A major goal of the district's nationally recognized School Change Initiative is to foster strong partnerships with parents and the community to provide resources and support systems that ensure the health and wellness of our students.


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