Wellness in the Schools (WITS)
In A Nutshell:
WITS inspire healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in New York City’s public schools via partnerships with school leadership, teachers, chefs, coaches, parents and kids.
Why They Rock:
- Cook for Kids: In an effort to combat childhood obesity and to promote healthy eating, they prepare fresh meals from scratch and to educate families about the importance of eating whole, unprocessed foods.
- Green for Kids: Replacing traditional harsh cleaning agents with bio-based, effective cleaning products that are not harmful to children or the environment.
- Coach for Kids: Trained coaches work to encourage the least active children to engage in fun and healthy physical activities.
A Triple-Double in basketball doesn’t even compare to a Wellness Tri-Perfect: healthy cooking, green cleaning, & organized sports! WITS is determined to eliminate obesity, promote teamwork, and produce green conscious thinkers…and their target audience isn’t for the twenty-somethings following cool healthy trends (Quinoa is so hot right now), but for KIDS in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – transport me back, ciao Tater Tots and hello Redskin Potato Salad!
My contact Tanya was not only a great cook and educator, she also is the subway guru and provided me excellent directions to the classic school house of PS 130 in Brooklyn. We meet in the Science Room to teach the benefits of potatoes and prepare healthy potato salad with generous help from ‘lay-down-the-law’ Ms.Boyce-El and ‘salsera’ Liz.
I assisted with food preparation, helped kids wash their hands (I would drop the soap from high-up, like a raindrop-bomb…yes, they thought I was on drugs), and eventually I become the potato expert teacher (barfa-a-ronie coming). So, we were on the third class and Tanya became a bit sick…okay projectile vomit with dollops landing on the head of the boy – his face: Bambi in headlights.
Therefore, we sent Tanya to the showers and I taught the final class – thank goodness I was listening to Tanya’s earlier presentation cause I was ready to educate the Kindergarten class…I added some healthy trivia and made sure they understood French Fries murder Smurfs (no…but I basically said the tooth fairy will hate them)! I fielded all their food questions, although I was stumped and had no clue if dogs can meow.
New York hospitality love included my extended family which was accompanied with Jersey overflow. Before charging the city, I spent some time on Long Island with my grandparents who live 30 feet from the water – they provided great life advice, and dominated me with Italian, Chinese, and Ice-Cream…I had to call in my chill-cat aunt Robin & uncle Brian from Montauk to help calm the feeding storm. Onward to Brooklyn Heights to hang with my artsy amigos aunt Pami & uncle Matthew…we did impromptu Skyline & Giant Head dancing — they are big supporters of the 50Give Dance Campaign which we are pushing to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show (please help)! My accommodations in Manhattan were a present from my New Jersey hosts Laura and Scottie…I had an empty apartment similar to Basic Instinct sin Sharon Stone. Scottie laid out a map of hot-spots to eat which led me to dessert paradise/heaven/my new girlfriend…her name is Levain – I ate a cookie/brownie/cake thing and I started to cry (warning: not suitable for Wellness in the Schools recipe book…one a year).
It can be hard to stand-out in BIG and trendy New York; although WITS is surely becoming a celebrity for kids – they currently serve nearly 15,000 NYC school children across 19 schools! Healthy foods, green practices, and opportunities for regular play implanted at a young age will produce kids BIG in Wellness and not obesity…the permanent trend is Wellness.
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” – Mary Anne Radmacher