The Randolph Education Foundation (REF) recently announced the recipients of the $12,000 awarded through the Wellness Grant program. Students from Fernbrook, Ironia and Shongum Elementary Schools will soon benefit from health pilot programs that seek to incorporate movement into the classroom. A physical health initiative at the Randolph High School (RHS), directed to the community at large, is also among the grant recipients.
Eileen Douglas-Baker, second grade teacher at Fernbrook Elementary School, will be awarded $933 for “Stability Ball Classroom,” a project that will replace traditional chairs in the classroom with stability balls that allow children to channel their physical energy in a positive way.
“The use of stability balls will benefit all children,” said Douglas-Baker. “However, children with sensory processing disorders or ADHD will benefit even more because having their body in motion allows their brain to be engaged, alert, and to pay attention.”
Jessica Velez and Antoinette Compel, third grade co-teachers from Shongum Elementary School, will receive $1,022 for the initiative “Promoting Learning and Wellness through Movement.” This program seeks to create a variety of workspaces that promote movement within the inclusive classroom, to enhance the learning experience and overall wellness of the third graders. The funds will be used to acquire equipment for the workspaces such as a standing desk, balance ball chairs, one-footed stools, and desk cycles.
“The one-size-fits-all set up of traditional classrooms isn’t the most effective way to learn,” said Velez. “With the unique needs of the student population in the co-teaching classroom, we are finding that many of our students are most productive when they are able to move, and this equipment gives them the opportunity to move more freely without disturbing others,” added Compel.
The proposal “Wheel Make Learning Easier” submitted by Sarah Gabrielson, Learning Disabilities teacher-consultant from Ironia Elementary School, and Lisa Beck, school social worker from Shongum Elementary School, will receive $3,180 to purchase desk cycles that will allow students to pedal quietly while sitting at their desks.
“Research shows that physical activity throughout the school day prevents obesity and helps student’s academic performance,” said Gabrielson. “The desk cycles will provide the physical activity that students need during any part of the school day when they are required to sit and work,” added Beck.
Finally, $6,863 will go to the “Randolph Township Wellness Center,” a project that seeks to develop a dynamic and inclusive space that serves to unite students, staff, and the community towards creating a healthier lifestyle. The funds, requested by Stephen Cullis, media specialist, and Colleen Suflay, health and physical education teacher at RHS, will go towards the purchase of various exercise and cardio equipment for the improvement of the Wellness Center, which currently consists of a classroom-sized space, proper flooring for various types of exercise, and media equipment to simulcast exercise related media.
“The idea is that this center will blend and collaborate with our community by bringing together varying student populations, educational and curricular classes, district staff and outside resources,” said Cullis. “This partnership will represent a first of its kind in Morris County and will serve as model for other schools in the district and surrounding towns,” added Suflay.
“Wellness Grants are a great opportunity for the REF to support health initiatives in the schools,” said Francesca Lavin, Grant Chair and REF Board Member. “Whether it is providing funds for small pilots in the classroom or becoming a partner in a larger initiative, we are pleased to support health related programs that enable the Randolph students to thrive.”
Funds for the Wellness Grants come from the proceeds of Wellness Fest, a community-wide event organized by the Randolph Pain Relief and Wellness Center (PRWC) that took place on March 5.