As hard as it is to believe, a new school year is just around the corner! It’s time to plan those new community engagement programs now. One rural school found a great way to get their families excited about health and wellness through Family Fitness Nights.
Petsworth Elementary School’s physical education teacher, Margaret Watkins, and Community Engagement Coordinator, Cindy Thomas, created these evening events. They wanted to bring families into the school and get them involved in the different health-related activities available to them.
“Wellness, more than fitness, is the most important goal,” said Watkins.
“We want to introduce kids and families to different ways of being active to promote wellness in our community,” she added.
Parent volunteers, representatives from community organizations, and school staff take over the school building during Family Fitness Nights. They set up stations where families can sample activities such as Crossfit, aerobics, line dancing, yoga, and even art.
“Creativity is an important part of overall wellness,” notes Watkins.
Representatives from the local counseling center and other health centers come as well.
“Family Fitness Nights connect our families to available community resources at no charge,” said Thomas. “In rural areas like ours, we want our school to be a hub for family activities.”
Thomas added, “These events also connect our parents and teachers in a different way outside of meetings and conferences.”
One Kindergarten parent told Thomas that the Family Fitness Night was the first positive experience he had ever had in school as his own school years had been quite challenging.
“We want to make our school as welcoming as possible for our parents,” said Thomas.
Grant money from organizations like All State and Donor’s Choose, coupled with parent donations and volunteers, made the Family Fitness Nights possible.
Some Family Fitness Night activities stirred a great deal of interest. Yoga became so popular that school staff offered wellness-centered enrichment classes to students and parents.
One parent noted, “I was unhealthy and overweight before. I know how important this is.”
Both Watkins and Thomas have been pleased with the success of these events.
“It’s exciting to see where this could take us!” said Watkins.