One of the great things about OK In the Know is getting fresh ideas from stories of how Oklahomans are moving the needle forward for our communities to become healthier. For example, a growing partnership in Pottawatomie County is bringing wellness to school in several ways, including allowing students to discover firsthand the importance of agriculture and nutrition.
TSET Healthy Living Program serving Pottawatomie County partnered with Pleasant Grove School in Shawnee to expand their existing school garden. The garden expansion will assist in promoting and teaching the importance of agriculture and ‘farm to table’ practices, while also providing taste-testing opportunities for the students.
Additionally, the garden will serve as an instructional tool for nutrition and science education.
How did you develop this idea?
Pleasant Grove School is a leader in the community promoting wellness for students, staff and community. The discussion regarding garden expansion was a natural development as the school already had an existing garden, but had land to expand.
What costs and resources were required?
Teachers and students work in the garden and are making plans for the Spring season. This garden expansion will allow more opportunities for the teachers to use the garden as an instructional tool, and also provide more foods for taste testing opportunities. Gardening and trying new foods will assist students in developing a life skill and healthy eating habits.
How did this project tie to your work?
The process to strengthen existing policies and practices has been ongoing. School efforts and health champions / leaders work to improve and strengthen wellness policies to the Leader level and has resulted in a Model Tobacco Policy as well.
Currently, Pleasant Grove School is the only school in Pottawatomie County that has a Model Tobacco Policy, which means the campus is tobacco-free for all employees and visitors. Tobacco cessation support elements are included for employees, parents/guardians, family members and students interested in quitting tobacco use; the school communicates and promotes the available tobacco cessation benefits and insurance coverage for employees, prospective employees, new employees at the time of hire, and to all existing employees on annual basis.
What is the future of this partnership?
The Healthy Living Program will continue to work with the school and support their efforts promoting, teaching and improving health and wellness. This school is also the first Blue Zones Project – Pottawatomie County approved school in Oklahoma.
For others interested in making similar changes, check out the Blue Zones Project, which is a collaborative effort “designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy and social networks.” By pledging to be part of this project, organizations are dedicated to creating healthier environments.
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