28 Mini-Grants Awarded to Montgomery County Public Schools to Support Local School Wellness Councils
Through the Healthy Montgomery Transforming Communities Initiative (TCI), IPHI is partnering with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to provide technical assistance and funding to create and maintain a healthy school environment through the formation of local school wellness councils (LSWC). LSWCs are comprised of a group of school staff, administrators, parents, and others who work together to identify goals and create and implement action plans to enhance student health and wellbeing. Through this partnership, over $26,000 in mini-grant funding was awarded to 28 schools during the 2018-2019 school year. Grant funding is being used to support student access to healthy foods, nutrition education, increase physical activity, develop school gardens, and enhance initiatives to support mental health. To date, MCPS is the only school district in the state of Maryland to dedicate a Director of Student Wellness Initiatives to support this important work.
Since 2016, IPHI and MCPS have partnered to support LSWCs. A TCI-funded School Wellness Coordinator (SWC) working with MCPS has supported Wellness Champions by providing resources, connections to community partners, individualized technical assistance, and guidance regarding the implementation of school action plans. Last year, a cohort of 15 pilot schools were recruited and provided with resources and technical assistance from the SWC.
Based on evaluation findings, the project has made significant progress to improve opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating in schools and enhance the school climate to support health and wellness. Sample actions facilitated by LSWC’s to improve wellness included: providing extra recess time, offering fitness classes, implementing walk to school days, implementing flexible seating, providing mindfulness lessons, providing vegetable gardening, offering cooking lessons, and implementing strategies to promote healthy snacking. In the past year, over 46 schools have formalized LSWCs.
For more information on the TCI, visit www.institutephi.org/heatlhymontgomerytci