Fit4Kids has been busy kicking off the new school year with the expansion of its Wellness Integration and Learning Garden programs and the addition of two new staff members. We are thrilled to have Katie McTavish and Jeff Suho join Jenny Long-Innes and Nellie Bradley on our Wellness Integration Specialist team for the 2014-2015 school year. Katie and Jeff have hit the ground running at two of our new schools, Holladay Elementary in Henrico and Marguerite Christian in Chesterfield, and are already busy teaching high-energy lessons, organizing running clubs, and getting the whole school community excited about physical activity and wellness.

As for our two “senior” wellness integrators….Jenny returned to Elizabeth Scott for a second year and Nellie is infusing movement and wellness into the classrooms at Ginter Park Elementary in Richmond while continuing to provide assistance to Bellwood teachers as they work to independently teach more active lessons. Interested in seeing the lesson plans that our staff create and use in the classroom? We have tons of lessons available on our website for teachers to download and use.

Fit4Kids is also excited to partner with two new schools for the Learning Garden program. Marguerite Christian and Thomas Dale High School in Chesterfield welcomed the addition of Fit4Kids learning gardens to their campuses in September. A big thanks to the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for sponsoring the garden at Marguerite Christian and to Columbia Gas for sponsoring the TDHS garden! The day-long garden installations engaged hundreds of students and staff in hands-on activities that resulted in beautiful new raised beds full of fall vegetables.

These gardens will inspire hours of hands-on food and nutrition learning for students throughout the school year. With ten learning gardens, our garden educators have been actively digging into lessons on fall planting, plant parts and growing and eating delicious garden vegetables. These weekly lessons expose students in elementary and high school to new, healthy food and inspire them to develop healthy eating habits for life. In addition, many of the garden lessons are based on Virginia Standards of Learning, which certainly gets teachers energized to attend and teach lessons in the garden!

Elizabeth Scott Elementary is also excited to welcome back Liam Anastasia-Murphy as its active recess coach. Liam ensures that Scott students engage in fun, physically active play during recess by organizing tag games, relay races, and other activities that get Scott students moving. With the addition of a new walking path loop to the playground field, recess is even more active for students that are running, jogging, skipping and walking with Coach Liam.

Phew! We have been busy! Stay tuned for additional program updates throughout the year as we work to improve the health and wellness of kids and families across the Richmond region.