students posing

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Four teachers and 44 third and fourth graders from Alma E. Pagels Elementary School are participating in an inter-district program called, “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies.” Students at Pagels are joined by their peers at Bradley School (Derby) and Chatfield-LoPresti Elementary School (Seymour) as they learn about proper nutrition, physical fitness, school performance, and psychological well-being.

“I’m pleased to be a part of “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies” because it provides enriching educational experiences for our students and allows them to work cooperatively with students from other regions in Connecticut,” said Ann Wentworth, a second grade teacher at Pagels. “Children are learning how to stay healthy in a fun, engaging way, and they are making new friends from other schools!”

“Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies” is a grant program designed to bring students of diverse backgrounds together to enhance multi-cultural understanding and improve academic performance as students learn to establish a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle.

In an effort to keep students safe from COVID-19, students stay in their respective schools for roughly half of the meetings as they take place on Zoom. At Pagels, the meetings are displayed on the school’s new Promethean boards. Students are then asked to participate in field trips on Saturdays with most of them taking place outdoors.

School meetings focus on a specific theme while students participate in activities in their respective schools, as well as virtually with the other schools in the program doing projects, challenges, and other activities. The lessons and activities are run in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, with activities focusing on healthy lifestyles, the relationship between food and exercise in achieving a healthy balance, as well as the role that a student’s own culture plays in their food choices.

Recently, students participated in a team-building challenge in which they created a structure out of marshmallows, spaghetti, and toothpicks. Their task was to create the tallest freestanding structure using only the given materials. Shortly after, they spent the day in Hartford at the Science Center with peers from Derby and Seymour learning about science through participating in hands-on science exhibits.

The program revolves around four core content areas: nutrition, physical activity/exercise, teamwork to enhance self-efficacy, and goal-setting. It takes place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, once a month, as well as Saturdays. The program started in March and is scheduled to end late June.

“Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies” is sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education. The program is staffed with certified teachers from Bradley, Chatfield-LoPresti, and Pagels. The four teachers from Pagels are Vinny Carr, Rachael Langley, Kelly Nebor, and Ann Wentworth.