Zamorano Elementary celebrates ‘Wellness Week’ with daily activities

Posted: Wednesday, June 6th 2018


Zamorano students running at jog-a-thon

Article courtesy of SDSU graduate student Russell Donaldson, who is working with Nursing & Wellness on Wellness efforts

After years of incremental changes toward healthier practices on campus, Zamorano Fine Arts Academy has found a way to coordinate their efforts into a new week-long event called “Wellness Week.” 

Guided by Principal Derek Murchison and school psychologist intern Courtney Meiers, every day of “Wellness Week” introduced a new health-related theme, each with corresponding activities and discussions for students, families and staff.

The week kicked off with Mindful Monday, a day in which students were encouraged to replace screen time with a physical or mindful activity. This was followed by Try-it-Tuesday, a day that stressed the importance of eating vegetables. Students were encouraged to try new vegetables in the lunch line at school and at dinner with their families. The highlight of the week was Workout Wednesday, with an opportunity for a morning walk and the main event Jog-a-thon.  For Thursday the theme was Thirsty Thursday, a day in which students were encouraged to rethink their drink. The focus was on drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages and the importance of hydration for maintaining optimal health. Finally, on Fresh Friday, students were encouraged to dress in the color of their favorite fruit, and the focus was on eating fresh fruits and fresh food in general as an alternative to consuming processed foods. 

As Zamorano strives to live by their motto of “Building strong minds and strong bodies,” Principal Murchison is leading by example, having recently made some health-inspired changes in his own life. He even participated in the Jog-a-thon. Making small changes such as eating a healthy breakfast, packing his own lunch, going on mountain bike rides and walks with other Zamorano staff members, Principal Murchison has committed to living a healthier overall lifestyle that goes beyond physical health or weight loss. 

“I want to lose some weight and eat healthier, focus on my social-emotional health, and sleep better at night,” Murchison said. “But I don’t want to just lose weight, because I could lose a lot of weight and not live a healthy lifestyle. I was public with the students about my goals to improve my overall health, and I am trying to be a better role model for them.” 

As Zamorano staff and students have embraced a week committed to wellness, it is has been a mind-opening experience for some of the students. The different activities and opportunities for discussion have gotten some of the students discussing their choices, understanding why these efforts are taking place, and asking more questions. 

“Teachers have told me that their students have been choosing vegetables over dessert. A parent even communicated to a teacher that their child did not want to eat cake one night because they wanted to have vegetables instead,” Meiers said. “Teachers have also been having good conversations with their students about alternate activities that they can do instead of screen time. In addition, I do yoga at recess and more students are starting to get involved with that.” 

As the Zamorano school community has immersed itself in a week of wellness there is optimism that a positive culture shift toward health and wellness is taking place. 

“I have had 10 years of Jog-a-thon, but this week is more exciting because our wellness efforts started at the beginning of the week, and they don’t just stop with Jog-a-thon” Murchison said.  “I think now the kids and the parents want to make this a way of life, I have never felt this kind of energy before as a principal.” Moving forward Zamorano will continue to strive to create a healthier campus and community for the future.  

Zamorano joins schools across San Diego Unified in creating a culture of health & well-being for students, staff and families, as part of the District Wellness Initiative.  To learn more about Wellness in San Diego Unified please visit: https://www.sandiegounified.org/health-and-wellness. 

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