Terence Ryan on Sept. 22, 2014

School Committee Hears Requests From Healthy Kids Coalition

The following is part of a recap from the Sept. 22, 2014 Westford School Committee meeting. For other parts of the meeting, click here.

8:47 p.m. – The meeting then went to a discussion regarding the Healthy Kids Coalition.

Zac Cataldo and Anastasia O’Malley of the Healthy Kids Coalition began their presentation, asking a resolution to support five things as well as a large question.

First, a group of children provided several facts related to health.

O’Malley and Cataldo introduced the group and provided updates on some recent initiatives the group had helped with including a move to bring chefs to schools, an indoor edible garden and a project to bring healthier snacks into schools.

The first request was to ask the schools to help students and parents pledge create “electronic-free sleep zones” which would help create students avoid lack of sleep.

The second request was to introduce sleep logs as part of Physical Education, comparable to reading logs. Their hope was this would help students pay more attention toward proper sleeping habits.

The third request was to present public service announcements at Westford Academy. Principal Jim Antonelli supports this as long as the announcements are worked within time constraints.

Terence Ryan on Sept. 22, 2014

Terence Ryan on Sept. 22, 2014

The fourth request was to increase the amount of times middle schoolers go to gym, with O’Malley indicating that they currently only have physical education class once every eight days.

O’Malley also said that stretching should be included into classrooms with one middle school team on a test basis.

The final request is a slight addition to the summer reading program and the school video policy to require students spend more time looking at documentaries and books relating to health.

O’Malley said that some new initiatives that have already been put into place, such as Taste Test Tuesdays, were positive, but there was still room to improve.

She also said that lunch should be seen as a core subject.

After the conclusion of the presentation, Keele praised Cataldo and O’Malley, calling the presentation thought provoking.

Murray asked what the mechanism was to address the requests. Clay said he believed a resolution of support was the first step.

School Committee Member Arthur Benoit said he was not personally comfortable supporting these initiatives right away since they could take several years, although he asked if short-term, medium-term and long-term plans could be made to make these requests a reality.

Olsen said that discussions would need to occur with Food Services and school administrators and that the School Committee generally doesn’t take immediate action at the first showing of a proposal, but that he and his staff would look at potential implementation ideas should the Committee choose to support the initiatives.

Clay said it may be possible to schedule something regarding the some of the requests in the near future.

School Committee Member Angela Harkness asked about the electronic-free sleep zones pledge, and that distributing a request could be done quickly.

Harkness also talked about potential ideas for the other initiatives and how they can be discussed later and that none of them seemed difficult other than the middle school gym request.

Olsen joked that the initiatives could be begun immediately with the board taking a stretch in the middle of the meeting.

The student representatives agreed that something should be done.

Then Harkness said that two weeks ago there had been a discussion on sleeping patterns and this was a solution.

Clay said the matter would be approached again within the next four or five meetings and some things would be done in the meantime.

Harkness moved to support a resolution to attempt to support the initiatives.

The committee then took a stretch break.