Thursday, March 14, 2013

Manchester School Holds Annual Health Fair by Elizabeth Richards

On Thursday, March 7th, the Manchester School offered students an opportunity to learn about health and wellness that goes beyond simply eating right at their annual health fair day.

Jamie Pappalardo, a fourth grade teacher at the Manchester School and one of four health fair committee members, said, “During  health fair day, we provided opportunities for the students to learn about various lifestyle choices that promote healthy living.”  While healthy eating is certainly a part of that, students also had the chance to learn about personal hygiene, exercise, team building and goal setting, all of which contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

There has been a health fair day at the Manchester school for many years, and the goals of the event have remained unchanged, said Pappalardo.  These goals include teaching students to use decision making and communication skills to enhance health and reduce health risks, to use goal-setting skills to build better emotional, social and physical health, and to work cooperatively in order to achieve a goal.

The day provided a balance of activities and presentations for students.  Eliza Adams and Kate Thomas presented a segment about personal hygiene.  A discussion on the food pyramid and healthy breakfast choices was presented by Stephanie Joyce and Jeanne Reilly.  DARE Officer Matt Cyr offered a presentation on canoe and kayak safety, and Todd Wing presented a team building session.  Classroom teachers were active participants in the day, speaking with students about the importance of goal setting, and then guiding students through the goal setting process.

There were plenty of active events throughout the day as well.  With the recent snowfall, students were able to get outside and take advantage of healthy winter exercise options with snowshoeing and ice sculpting.  “It was exciting to see the teachers building forts and sculptures with students in the snow,” said Pappalardo.

A healthy lunch of tuna or turkey wraps, a fruit and veggie bar, a yogurt parfait and milk options was provided as well, to promote healthy eating.

“Manchester School recognizes that student wellness and good nutrition are related to physical and psychological well-being and readiness to learn,” said Pappalardo.  In addition, the school also recognizes that these students need access to healthful food and the opportunity to be physically active in order to grow, ideas which coincide with the wellness policy of RSU 14, she said.  With events like the health fair day, the school is able to guide students through various activities and lessons that provide students with important base knowledge in these concepts.

“Health fair day is a unique experience for the students and teachers,” Pappalardo said.  “Many times, students do not understand that health is more than just eating the right foods.  Health includes the mind and the body, and the students learn this throughout the day.”

The health fair committee for this year was Pappalardo, along with fifth grade teacher Andrea Lavigne and special education teachers Jeanne Watts and Kate Thomas.

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