Wellness in the Schools inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in New York City’s public schools. Through meaningful public/private partnerships with school leadership, teachers, chefs, coaches, parents and kids, Wellness in the Schools creates hands-on programs such as Cook for Kids, Green for Kids and Coach for Kids. These programs provide healthy foods, healthy environments and opportunities for regular play to help kids learn and grow.
- Cook for Kids
In partnership with the New York City Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood, Wellness in the Schools operates the Cook for Kids program in public school cafeterias and classrooms. In an effort to combat childhood obesity and to promote healthy eating, Wellness in the Schools places our WITS in Residence Cooks in schools to prepare fresh meals from scratch, engage students, and educate families about the importance of eating whole, unprocessed foods. Inspired by the model of Teach for America, the program that trains talented college graduates to teach in public schools, WITS invests in graduates of culinary schools to serve as team members to cafeteria staff, allies for parents and teachers, and mentors for students. In many schools the cooks also conduct seasonal cooking classes and offer regular demonstrations to teach children, parents and teachers how to cook delicious, nutritious and inexpensive recipes, using fresh local ingredients whenever possible. WITS also partners with local chefs and restaurants, who work with the WITS in Residence Cooks to get students excited about healthy eating and offer WITS consultation and promotional support.
- Coach for Kids
WITS operates Coach for Kids in the recess yards of NYC public schools. Trained coaches work to encourage the least active children to engage in fun and healthy physical activities. Coach for Kids actively combats schoolyard bullying and fosters a sense of excitement and engagement among children. Children need at least 60 minutes of activity each day, a benchmark for optimal health that NYC public schools often do not meet. Coach for Kids helps students come closer to meeting this crucial benchmark. WITS coaches inspire and mentor children while teaching them basic sport-specific skills and engaging in games to use those skills.
- Green for Kids
The WITS Green for Kids environmental program works in partnership with agencies and organizations concerned with environmental efforts in NYC public schools. WITS’ signature environmental program was launched in partnership with the New York City Department of Education in 2006. Pound for pound, children take in more contaminants than adults and they are exposed to more toxins because of their daily behaviors (lying on floors, hands-in-mouth, etc.). Schools are cleaned every day with industrial strength cleaners, which leave behind residues. In Green for Kids, WITS introduces bio-based, effective cleaning products that are not harmful to children or the environment.
WITS also supports the efforts of city-wide sustainability efforts in NYC public schools, namely those of The Greenhouse Project at New York Sun Works and Styrofoam out of Schools.