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Laura YorkPosted by Laura York, Department of Public Health 

  Laura is the Director of the Coordinated School Health Program and a certified group exercise instructor/personal trainer.


Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2012 Massachusetts School Wellness Award!  The awards program is a joint effort of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, It honors schools that support and promote healthy eating, physical activity, and tobacco-free lifestyles among students and staff.  

The winning schools received their choice of materials to support school wellness activities as well as a banner of recognition which was presented at the MA Association of School Committees and MA Association of School Superintendents Annual Joint Conference on November 7, 2012 in Hyannis.  Winning schools were chosen for their efforts to develop exceptional policies and programs in the areas of Health Education, Physical Education, Physical Activity, Nutrition, Staff Wellness, and Tobacco Prevention. Find more information.



From left to right: Carol Goodenow, Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education; Principal, Estabrook Elementary School; Jill Gasperini, Coordinator of School Health; and Laura York, Department of Public Health

Estabrook Elementary School, Lexington

Every May, the Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington hosts the “Run of the Mill 5k” and “Jim Banks Kids Fun Run.”  The event promotes the idea of running together as a family and a school and attracts over 250 participants from the community.  The Kids Run, where children ages 3 to 12 run laps at the school according to age, is held prior to the 5k and then everyone is invited to stay for a post race picnic.  Medals and items such as water and headbands are provided by local vendors.  On the following day, a large poster is hung in the school highlighting the Estabrook students and staff who ran.  The race has also motivated many teachers to start taking weekly walks or runs together after school.

South High Community School, Worcester

South High Community School in Worcester conducts a Hunger Awareness Week every year where students learn about hunger in all classes such as reading hunger literature in English class, using hunger statistics in math class, and learning about the biological effects of hunger from visiting doctors and dieticians in science class.  The school chorus and band also develop a melody of songs focused on helping each other and present the songs to faculty during a lunch prepared by South food service students.  During Hunger Awareness Week in 2010, students began discussing hunger in their own families and school staff realized they needed to address this challenge for their students.  The South High Food Pantry was started and continues to serve 85 students and their families weekly.  Food for the pantry is donated by faculty and community agencies.  Additionally, all grade 9 students plant and harvest vegetables at a local farm that grows food for local food pantries.

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