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Gaithersburg Elementary School Showcases Wellness

Gaithersburg Elementary School Showcases Wellness in Montgomery County

On April 10th, the Healthy Montgomery Transforming Communities Initiative (TCI) partners from IPHI, Trinity Health, Holy Cross Health and the Eat Well Be Active Partnership visited Gaithersburg Elementary School (GES), one of 15 Montgomery County Public Schools implementing Local School Wellness Councils (LSWCs) with support from the TCI.

Left to Right: Michelle Caruso (IPHI), Kimberly McBride (Holy Cross Health), Emily Heberlein (Georgia Health Policy Center), Marla Caplon (MCPS), Jaime Dircksen (Trinity Health), Julia Groenfeldt (IPHI), Beth Geno (Trinity Health), Gaby Massie, (MCPS), Cara Grant (MCPS), Evelyn Kelly (IPHI), Jason Berg (GES), Christine Tilkens (GES), and Principal Meredith McNerney (GES).

As an LSWC pilot school, GES has worked closely with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and IPHI to train and support School Wellness Champions to implement its LSWC and wellness initiatives in alignment with district-wide policy. The site visit allowed project funders and partners to learn about these efforts from the staff and teachers implementing the work.

The site visit group toured the school, visiting a 4th grade classroom equipped with flexible seating such as cushions, yoga balls, standing desks, and sensory seats, as well as the school mindfulness room where students can reflect and reconnect on an as-needed basis. On the tour, the group stopped by a Zumba class, one of the school’s free after-school clubs that promote physical activity to students and parents. The group also observed the school’s daily mindfulness practice at dismissal led by Principal McNerney. Throughout the visit, teachers and staff noted the benefits of these activities and resources that have helped encourage healthy practices and student behavior change throughout the school.

Next year, IPHI and MCPS will use lessons learned from the 15 pilot schools to create tools, resources, and processes in support of district-wide expansion. This strategy is supported through funding from Trinity Health, the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation.

For more information on the Transforming Communities Initiative, see Healthy Montgomery TCI.