TOMS RIVER – Toms River Regional school Intermediate South has been awarded funding in the state health-based pilot program.
Recently, the school became one of 21 in New Jersey to be selected from three regions.
According to the Intermediate South administration the school contains grade levels 6-8 and a enrollment of 1,108 children. The pilot program is called the “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Health Project” and is a four-year program. The state agency running the program is the New Jersey Department of Health.
According to EmPower Somerset Program Director Abena Dakwahene the school is to first develop a health and wellness team. The team will decide how to use the funding that is provided. A lengthly needs assessment questionnaire will then be taken by the team to indicate what areas need improvement and where the school is doing well. After year one the team will work to implement the programs the team decides to focus on.
Every child in Intermediate South will be involved in the pilot program.
“We were made aware of this opportunity in May, and encouraged to look into it and apply when the application was released in the summer,” spokesman for the Toms River Regional School District Mike Kenny said.
“If you look at our Board of Education-approved goals for the 2018-19 school year, you will see the phrase ‘whole child,’ because we believe in the overall health of our students’ it is what leads to sustained success and achievement,” Superintendent of Schools David Healy said.
The grant is worth $15,000 for the length of the program and is in line with the board-approved district goals.
“So much of what we’re doing as a district is geared toward overall health and a ‘whole child’ approach,” Kenny said.
The school district is a part of the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition. One of the goals for the district is more health-based initiatives.
“We’re thrilled to be among the first to implement this program and to witness firsthand the impact it will have on our students,” Healy said.
At Intermediate South, guidance counselor Betty Velez-Gimbel will head the program.
Intermediate South will provide data, work directly with the New Jersey Department of Health and EmPower Somerset to create a healthy school environment. According to EmPower Somerset it is a non-profit with a mission to assist individuals, families and communities in making positive lifestyle choices.
The health-based pilot program is also research based.
“We actively seek opportunities that require us to gauge impact with data because that’s really the only way to know if something is truly working,” Kenny said.