Fair Haven Middle School consists of approximately nine hundred and fifty students made up of fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. This population is approximately 90% minority, with 70% of that group being Hispanic. Many of these students are currently at high risk for diet related illnesses such as, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Therefore, there is great need for a school wide program that addresses health and prevention issues.
New Haven does not currently have a health curriculum for its K-12 students; hence, reaching these students regarding the areas of health, nutrition and general wellness is strongly needed. Our school based health center, physical education teachers, school nurse, guidance department and cafeteria staff have formed a coordinated school health committee to begin to focus on ways of addressing these areas of concern. As a guidance counselor and active member of this committee, creating a curriculum unit around our school needs would serve as an effective tool for me to reach our students.
The entire school environment influences student’s eating behaviors and physical activity, therefore, a preliminary survey to discover the health interests and needs of our school was administered. The results of this survey determined that the needs to be targeted are: physical activity, nutrition and parent and community involvement. This unit encompasses these identified issues through a developmentally appropriate guidance perspective. I intend to utilize the seminar’s information, while also addressing proper decision-making and problem solving skills to enable these students to deal with the current risks facing their overall wellness.
There is a need for teaching in these focus areas, however, without a designed curriculum these topics are often overlooked. As a guidance counselor, I can address these issues in an academic or specialty classroom to ensure that every student receives the information. For the purpose of this curriculum, I intend to divide the grade levels into fifth and sixth grade topics and seventh and eighth grade topics. The basic concepts and issues will be discussed similarly, however the content areas will be addressed differently in that they will be developmentally appropriate for each group. These lessons will be adapted and changed yearly so as to ensure that the same student is not receiving the same information twice. The lesson plans will be designed to reach students in an effective manner for their interest and ability in relation to the topic of health and wellness.
Since Fair Haven is a school environment, our overall objective is to promote individual production in the area of academic achievement and success for our students. My pedagogical perspective in implementing this curriculum will be to teach these issues in a manner that is practical, age appropriate and hands on. I believe that a student learns best by doing. The lessons to be learned in this unit lend easily to allowing the students the freedom to apply the information in a personal and practical manner. The only way to have this information relayed to the student body population, as a whole is to do so in a multi-disciplinary approach, this broad content area is a school wide concern and should be addressed accordingly. I will work collaboratively with the teachers in addressing these various topics, as well as teaching lessons and facilitating small groups. As each of the topics is discussed in their appropriate classrooms the final outcome of the lessons will be evaluated accordingly. As a follow up exercise to each of these lessons the students will write an article for the school newsletter summarizing the content learned. This newsletter will not only be an essential tool for school wide awareness, but this will be sent home to parents so they can also gain new knowledge and become aware of the teachings at Fair Haven. A resource such as this one, not only provides the culmination of new knowledge gained, sharing of knowledge to others less informed, but ultimately it serves as a collaborative measure between the school and it’s Fair Haven families.