Preparing children for academic and life success is among our city’s most important responsibilities and the core charge of the Boston Public Schools. Critical to meeting this responsibility is ensuring that our children arrive to school each day ready to learn. More than anything, this means that children are in good health—that they are adequately fed and eating healthy, physically fit and emotionally well.
Over the past two years, we have made important strides in improving student health and wellness policies and programs, including securing over $4 million in funding, requiring all of our schools to develop Wellness Plans, adopting new healthy meals, nutrition and fitness programs, and collaborating closely with a range of health and wellness community partners to deliver needed services.
This past spring, we also initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process to identify opportunities to further improve student health and wellness policies and programs. I am now pleased to share with you the results of this process: Healthy Connections Strategic Plan. Based on the work of a cross-department BPS taskforce, input from key community advisors, and review of relevant research, this plan provides an honest assessment of our current efforts and organizational capacity to promote student health and wellness. At the same time, it outlines several important strategies for enhancing our organizational capacity in the future and aligning health and wellness efforts with other district-wide initiatives. Access the full report here>>
Chief among these strategies is collaboration with the Mayor to appoint a BPS Health and Wellness Council, comprised of key city and community health and wellness partners and thought leaders, who will guide and monitor our efforts in this area. A second core strategy is the reorganization of several of our existing health and wellness programs and initiatives to form a new Coordinated Health and Wellness Department. This new department will significantly improve the way we plan, implement, and evaluate health and wellness policies and programs across schools.
In closing, I offer my thanks to those who participated in this strategic planning process, and encourage you to read the Healthy Connections plan and discuss it with us. I look forward to the conversation and the work ahead.
Carol R. Johnson