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We Choose Health

MALDEN/MANLIUS — Three area schools are working with the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department to implement ways to improve the health of their students, staffs and communities.

Becky Piano, a health educator from the Bureau/Putnam Health Department, has announced the health department is working with the Bureau Valley, Malden Grade and Putnam County School districts through the We Choose Health Grant program.

Piano said she will provide professional development for the staff of those districts to improve the rate of fully-engaged students during recess and physical education. The activities in physical education will target or limit a student’s wait time to be active in games. Recess will now have more indoor equipment that will allow students to become active and engaged in activities which do not require a lot of space, she said.

On Monday, Malden Grade Superintendent Mike Patterson said the implementation of the We Choose Health program is in its early stages at Malden. The district has created a wellness team of staff members who met in September to do a type of wellness audit for the school and identify areas of needs, based on questions given the team.

In coordination with the We Choose Health program, Malden has received a C.A.T.C.H. grant through which the school was able to buy some physical education equipment as well as some alternative equipment for students who may not be able to participate in some activities, Patterson said, adding the school has also been able to purchase some instructional materials.

In coming weeks, the school will also look at some staff-centered ideas. The school does a good job of providing fitness and wellness activities and information for its students, but there might need to be a concentration as well on the physical, social and emotional well-being of its staff, he said.

The implementation of the We Choose Health program at Malden will be a continuous process, Patterson said. As steps are taken to address each issue, then the focus will shift toward the next issue.

A Bureau Valley School District spokesperson could not be reached for comment by press time.

In explaining the background to the We Choose Health program, Piano said all three school districts completed a survey on the health of their school district to participate in the program. Several staff members from each school attended C.A.T.C.H. training, which is a curriculum emphasizing increased physical activity throughout the day and promoting healthier lifestyles, Piano said.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to work with each of the school districts and are looking forward to helping them determine unique ways to increase health in their districts,” Piano said.

The Putnam County Record contributed to this article.

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