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How do you build a culture of student wellness?

physical educationAs the WCSD Board President, an outspoken education advocate, and a former college athlete, I recognize that this is a question every parent asks themselves. I know, because although I don’t have kids myself, the “in loco parentis” of an educator is strong in me. (Which basically means I would function as a guardian, and act in the child’s best interests, to any of our 64,000 students while their own guardian isn’t present) I think about student wellness. A lot.

While I know that the District’s Nutrition Policy has been under public scrutiny, it is based on national regulations, and I can assure in good conscience that it was created with thoughtfulness and good intention. I think most moms will agree with me when I say that good nutrition is a big component of ensuring student wellness. Without the right fuel, it’s hard for kids to keep focused throughout the school day. There is some truth to that old adage, “You are what you eat.”

There is a second part to student wellness, though, that hasn’t been as visible, or as “active” in the public consciousness.

Physical education. (Or P.E.)

So many great things come from P.E.

Physical Education, and encouraging students to be active and healthy, is an objective that is near and dear to my heart. I was always an athletic kid. Basketball has been my game for as long as I can remember. There was a time in grade school, where I, a skinny, small girl, was the only female playing on a court with all boys. They were rowdy and competitive, but then so was I. And more than that, it was fun! Basketball continued to impact my life, guiding my way to college and giving me opportunities I could have never pursued otherwise. While it made me physically strong, it made me even stronger mentally.

That’s the funny thing about being active. While you feel like you’re just having fun and playing a game, you’re also gaining invaluable skills that can make you successful later in life. It gives new meaning to “making gains.” Team sports are unparalleled for instilling interpersonal and social skills – by making you work with people from different backgrounds who are not like you to achieve a common goal. It gives you a chance to recognize and capitalize on others skills and weaknesses, which is a skill that’s crucial in the modern workforce. Engaging in athletic pursuits individually can be equally as rewarding. It can (while building you up physically) build up your grit. “Grit” is a special combination of stamina and drive. By setting long-term goals, and working towards them even when it’s challenging, you develop both physical and mental stamina and build your propensity for determination. I’m sure that we can agree that determination is hard-earned, but well deserved.

Physical exercise give students an arsenal of benefits that range well-beyond the physical. Learning things like winning graciously, losing without feeling defeated, learning your motivations and limits, recognizing and building work ethic are the skills that need to be instilled in our children and nurtured to encourage them to be responsible and effective community members.

I could write another five pages listing all of the benefits that I see in promoting physical activity as a key component to student wellness. To keep it short: I’m a strong proponent for P.E.

That being said, there has been some perception that the Washoe County School District does not share this view.

This is incorrect.

While juggling state and federally imposed standards, we have continued to emphasize the importance of an active lifestyle for our students. P.E. is still among the required credits for students to graduate high school. We encourage students to participate in school athletic programs and recognize these programs as an enhancement to students’ academic pursuits. Additionally, this year our annual Bike to School Day was extended to Bike to School Week. This has the dual-advantage of promoting physical wellness while decreasing the region’s carbon footprint. I also know that schools individually often host a slew of fun-runs, field days, nature walks, and other outdoor recreational activities.

As a community, I hope we can recognize these enriching efforts.

As a District, we will continue to support these programs, and develop new ones as they come along.

As an individual, I will always be an active advocate for physical education.

Now it’s your turn. Concerned with student wellness? Thinking of ways to get your kids more active? Go ahead, run with it.


Dr-Taylor-Headshot-for-web

Dr. Angie D. Taylor has a long history of excellent leadership, people development and community service. In the fall of 2014 she was appointed to the Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees, becoming the first African American to serve in that capacity. In addition to serving on the WCSD Board, Taylor is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Guardian Quest, Inc., an organization specializing in providing training, organizational development and leadership solutions for corporate, government, educational and military clients across North America. She is also the Founder/CEO of ExcelQuest Community Development Corporation, a training agency that works specifically with the faith-based community and small non-profit organizations.

Regardless of her role, Taylor is committed to adding value and making a difference. She is passionate about many things and has intentionally positioned herself to work within those areas. Education, personal development and faith highlight the areas she loves while also driving her success.

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