Scotia-Glenville’s Wellness Committee

Wellness photograph

What is the Scotia-Glenville Wellness Committee?

Fruits and Vegetables imageSchool wellness committees assess the school health environment, programs and policies in place and identify ways to strengthen these to improve the health of students and staff. Committees develop and implement action plans based on what they learn about the school. The committees provide advice and expertise to administrators in the building and at the district level regarding health-related policies and programs.

Read Scotia-Glenville’s wellness policy

Did you know?

  • Children need access to healthful foods and opportunities to be physically active in order to grow, learn, and thrive;
  • Good health fosters student attendance and education;
  • Obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades, and physical inactivity and excessive calorie intake are the predominant causes of obesity;

  • Heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are responsible for two-thirds of deaths in the United States, and major risk factors for those diseases, including unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, and obesity, often are established in childhood;

  • 33 percent of high school students do not participate in sufficient vigorous physical activity;

  • Only 2 percent of children (2 to 19 years) eat a healthy diet consistent with the five main recommendations from the Food Guide Pyramid;

  • School districts around the country are facing significant fiscal and scheduling constraints; and

  • Community participation is essential to the development and implementation of successful school wellness policies.

Some ideas to think about…

Here are some thoughts about wellness, Click on the links below to go directly to that article:

Fascia Helps Keep Our Mind and Body in Shape

Fascia is internal connective tissue that wraps around organs, providing support and holding parts together. It has the appearance of a very thin spider web, connecting layers of muscle and surrounding all internal body tissues.

It is the expansive network of densely packed collagen fibers that encases every part of your body. This mesh-like substance acts like a second skin to support all your internal parts and maintain human structure. Every structure within your body—every organ, vessel, nerve and muscle has its own fascial wrapping, as does every cell within those parts. Fascia is innervated with sensory receptors that respond to stimuli. The sensory neurons involved enlarge in an inflammatory response, therefore causing pain. The health of your fascia affects your physical and mental health.

Researchers believe that fascia does far more than help us keep our shape. Since these fibers are so extensively integrated into our system, fascia is involved in every motion we make. Not only can it move independently of our muscles, it has a powerful sensory capability that responds to stress. If you’ve ever had a nagging injury you just can’t seem to shake, it’s most likely due to fascia stiffening up to protect the aggravated part. Past traumas are stored in the fascia, literally deforming the natural shape of the fascia and holding the person into the damaged position.

Chronic myofascial pain (CMP), also known as myofascial pain syndrome, is a painful condition that affects the muscles and fascia. Those suffering with chronic myofascial pain have trigger points which are highly sensitive areas within the muscle that are painful to touch and cause pain that can be felt in another area of the body, called referred pain. Other symptoms associated with CMP include a sensation of muscle weakness, tingling, and stiffness. The pain might also lead to problems sleeping. CMP is often confused with fibromyalgia. However, fibromyalgia is usually associated with more widespread pain and other symptoms including sleep disruption, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue throughout the body, and headaches. Possible causes of CMP include mechanical factors, poor posture, stress, overuse of muscles, exercising or performing work activities using poor techniques. Additionally, anxiety and depression can cause increased muscle tension, leading to significant myofascial pain.

Recent research is examining links between fascia health and a number of rheumatic diseases including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. Additionally, researchers are examining links between fascia health and other autoimmune responses.

Healthy fascia is supple and pliable, allowing for a wide range of motion and flexibility. Its consistency is both fibrous and watery.  Like the rest of the body, it needs maintenance to stay healthy. Living a sedentary lifestyle can cause fascia fibers to become stiff and lose their elasticity. The fascia literally dries out and stiffens along lines of use.  The fascial sheaths can become glued together creating adhesions.  The drying and adhesions inhibit efficient muscular work and joint mobility.  This creates the greatest form of restriction and can easily lead to injury. Excessive repetitive movements and trauma can dramatically increase the density or mass of the fascia resulting in significant impairment to movement, circulation, and lymphatic flow. This damage can also impact the positioning of the bone structures. Chronic pain often results from an accumulation of excessive dense fascia and scar tissue.

Fortunately, fascia has amazing self-healing properties, so the damage does not need to be permanent. Resistance flexibility training and foam rolling can literally strip away layers of excessive fascia. Traditional stretching methods that do not use resistance while stretching unfortunately produce more fascia and scar tissue. Most people new to resistance stretching are shocked at the rapid postural changes and freedom of movement that result from removing the dense fascia. Foam rolling and resistance flexibility training can both result in decreased muscle and joint pain, increased circulation, improved mobility and balance.

It may not be possible to prevent all episodes of CMP, but the incidence and severity can be reduced by improving posture, maintaining appropriate weight, exercising regularly using proper technique, eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, practicing appropriate stress-management techniques. Medical treatment options generally include physical therapy, massage therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Improving the health of the fascia reduces physical stress in the body which correlates to a reduction in mental stress. When the body feels strong and limber, the brain responds with an increase in confidence and positive energy.

Janet Rathjens
Wellness Committee

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The Power of Mindset

Research based on the work of world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck

Much of what we are able to accomplish in this life begins with what we believe to be true about ourselves. Researchers call this thought process our “mindset”. Having a growth mindset can allow people to find success, improve health and succeed in what might have seemed improbable or even impossible. People with a fixed mindset believe that they have predetermined abilities and that much of their outcome is, therefore, out of their control. A fixed mindset holds people back, closes doors and can, quite literally, make people sick. People with growth mindset do not fear mistakes, they learn from them. They have the resilience to push past what others might see as failure. They know that outcome is based on effort and therefore that they are in control of their destiny.

Research has produced concrete evidence that there are physiological processes connecting the mind and the body. Connections exist throughout the body, including between the central nervous system and the immune system. Immune system cells have receptors which receive chemical signals from the brain. A growth mindset, which goes hand in hand with an optimistic thought process, a can-do attitude, releases chemicals that improve the functioning of the immune system and therefore decreases the risk of illness. A fixed mindset, pessimistic attitude, and ‘I am a victim’ thought process, results in the release of different chemicals which negatively impact the immune system, thus increasing the likelihood of illness.

Mindset impacts every aspect of our lives. This includes not only our health but also our relationships, our education, our careers, our success in achieving goals and ultimately our ability to enjoy life. We need to start focusing on our mindset, praising ourselves and each other for effort and perseverance rather than for perceived talent. Talent alone achieves little and sets people up for disappointment. Everyone will have setbacks. Those with a growth mindset use those setbacks to propel themselves forward. Those with a fixed mindset struggle and see themselves as the failure. This will keep them from challenging themselves because they are afraid of the outcome, what they see as possible failure. Well-meaning praise, which focuses on product or natural abilities, although intended to boost self-confidence, often has the opposite effect. The best praise focuses on effort, strategy, focus, attitude, perseverance and the choice to challenge oneself, despite the risk. This type of praise increases self-confidence, decreases stress and improves the quality of life. In reality, struggle leads to an increase in resilience and the ability to achieve even the most improbable of goals. More importantly, it allows you to enjoy the journey and find self-satisfaction along the way.

Janet Rathjens
and the Wellness Committee

For more information:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck Ph.D.
Or
TED talks at TED.com access Carol Dweck for multiple video options

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Incorporating Mindfulness as a Tool to Improve Emotional and Physical Health

It is a busy world. Did you take notice of the changing leaves on the way to school or work today? Or turn down your music and say hello to someone walking past you in the hallway? In the rush to meet deadlines and accomplish tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment. In doing so, you may be missing out on how you are feeling or what exactly you are doing. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment, not reflecting on the drama that occurred at school yesterday or thinking about an upcoming football game. It is simply accepting without judgment. Mindfulness is based on science and has been found to be directly related to happiness.

Research shows that practicing mindfulness can improve physical and psychological health as well as improve our outlook, attitude and behavior. Mindfulness is an incredible tool to help us understand, tolerate, and deal with our emotions in healthy ways. It helps us to alter our habitual responses by taking pause and choosing how we act. When we are mindful, we experience our life as we live it. We experience the world directly through our five senses. Mindful meditation has been used to treat individuals with depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders. It has been discovered to improve our physical health by relieving stress, improving sleep and lowering blood pressure.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness! Basic mindful meditation directs our focus on breathing. Sit quietly and focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the feeling of the air flowing in and out of your nostrils or the way your belly rises with each breath. Once you feel a level of concentration, become aware of sounds, sensations and ideas. Consider each sound, thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. 5-10 minutes of basic mindful meditation a day can improve your health and focus tremendously.

A less formal approach to mindfulness is to practice staying present. To do this, choose any task (eating, walking, playing with a sibling).Simply bring your attention to the sensations in your body. Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air to go into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand. Now breathe out through your mouth, noticing the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation. Continue with the task at hand and with full concentration. Engage all of your senses, noticing each sound, sight and touch. If you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

Other types of meditation involve concentration. Yoga and Tai Chi are practices that can induce relaxation which can reduce our body’s response to stress. Whether you practice basic breathing techniques, focusing your attention on the present moment or more advanced techniques such as Yoga, mindful meditation is a tool that can help you better manage stress and anxiety and in turn allow you to become a better learner, a better artist or a better athlete. Give it a try!

Jessica Balch,
Wellness Committee
Harvard Health Publications, Psychology Today

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Immunity and Immunizations

Immunity is the body’s ability to protect itself from infectious disease. There are two basic types of immunity – passive and active. Passive immunity is temporary, with the most common form being that which an infant receives from its mother before birth and through breastfeeding. Over time, usually about a year, antibodies produced from this type of immunity will degrade and eventually, the child will no longer be protected. Active immunity occurs when a person’s body makes its own antibodies in response to the presence of an infectious organism – either exposure to the disease itself or by vaccination (also called immunization.) Active immunity usually lasts for many years and in some cases, a whole lifetime.

Currently in the United States, vaccines are routinely recommended for children ages 0-18 years against at least 17 different illnesses that can cause major health problems or even death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). While immunization rates are high and disease rates are low, this should not lead to complacency regarding vaccination. If immunization rates drop, the incidence of those vaccine-preventable illnesses will rise. With a rise in those diseases, there is significant cost to the community in physical, social and economic terms. A child may suffer needlessly from the disease and/or complications, children miss school, and parents miss work. The benefits of vaccination apply not only to the individual receiving the vaccination, but also to people who are vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases who are not able to be vaccinated – either due to a medical condition (children undergoing treatment for cancer, children with allergies to vaccine components, or children with immune deficiencies) or young age (many vaccines cannot be given to infants younger than 6 weeks of age.)

As with many issues in healthcare and life, risks must be considered along with the benefits of vaccination. A discussion with your child’s healthcare provider is essential in making this decision. Discuss your concerns and ask questions. There is much misinformation surrounding the topic of immunization; however in New York State certain immunizations given at specific time intervals are required for a student to enter school (https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2370.pdf). Additionally, for children who are traveling or living in college dorms, it is recommended that they receive additional vaccines (New York State Department of Health, 2015)

A schedule of the immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) can be found at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Documents/immunizationschedule.pdf . Thanks to immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases, children lead much healthier lives and parents worry less about the effects of these diseases on their children (Healthy Children.org, 2015).

Resources:
Immunizations. (2015). Healthy Children.org. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/default.aspx

Immunizations. (2015 November). New York State Department of Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/

The Pink Book. (2015, September 21 ) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/index.html

Authored by Joanne Reynolds RN, Betsy Williams RN, and Lisa Forshey RN for the Scotia-Glenville CSD Wellness Committee

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“Not So Sweet”

Many doctors, dietitians and biologists believe that we are, in essence, poisoning ourselves with excess sugar. Americans eat most of their sugar in two forms, table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. As far as the human body is concerned, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are the same, because enzymes in the intestine split sucrose into fructose and glucose within seconds. Fructose is converted to glucose and lactate. The liver is one of the few types of cells where this conversion occurs. Therefore, excessively large quantities of fructose, in its processed state, high fructose corn syrup, can put a high demand on the liver, perhaps higher than desired for optimum health. This excess fructose consumption can increase fat production in the body, and can raise triglycerides level, clogging arteries and increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Added sugars deliver empty calories, calories lacking in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other valuable nutrients. Sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar in the average American’s diet. They account for more than 1/3 of the added sugars that we, as a nation, consume. A typical can of soda contains between 8 and 11 teaspoons of sugar, all highly processed. Other important sources include cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit drinks, ice cream, candy and highly processed cereals and grains. It is true that virtually all fruits and vegetables have glucose, fructose and sucrose in varying quantities. However, these are naturally occurring sugars and are not usually seen as a concern as they are digested more slowly and therefore do not negatively impact blood glucose levels.

Sugar is described by researchers as a toxin that harms the organs and disrupts normal hormonal cycles. Current research shows that sugar is one of the most powerful aging substances known. This aging impact, effects arteries, joints, muscles, and organs and can often result in chronic pain. That high sugar diet is linked to tooth decay, obesity, inflammatory diseases, osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, cancer and a weakening of the immune system. Sugar is one of the primary causes of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and insulin resistance. Obesity and diabetes in women are also causing birth defects at a significantly higher rate, three times that of women without these issues.  Research has proven a significant link between excess sugar and cardiovascular disease, even in those individuals who are not overweight. Excess sugar increases LDL (bad) cholesterol. Drinking sugar sweetened beverages can quickly raise blood pressure. In fact just a teaspoon of sugar elevates blood pressure.

Numerous studies have shown the detrimental effect of sugar on mood, learning and quality of life.  Excess sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Lower sugar levels result in improved focus and help to maintain energy levels. Changes in diet, which lower sugar consumption, have lowered anti-social behavior and decreased delinquency and drop-out rates in numerous large-scale studies.

Large population studies have also made specific links between sugar and a person’s ability to learn grammar and mathematics. A high sugar diet causes insulin resistance, which damages communication between brain cells that fuel learning and memory formation, thus impairing brain function.  Similarly, both dementia and Alzheimer’s develop more frequently and at an earlier age in those consuming excess sugars.

Sugar is not only damaging our health, but it is having a huge impact on our finances; both personal and community, approximately 30-40% of healthcare costs in the USA are spent on issues related directly to excess sugar consumption.

All dietary changes, even those made for the good of the individual, are best made slowly.  Small changes are much more likely to end in successful outcomes. It is time that we each look at our choices, read labels and make small modifications to improve our level of wellness, for today and for the future. You are worth it!

1 teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams, and one gram is equal to 4 calories

American Heart Association’s recommendations for added sugar:

      • 100 calories/ 6 teaspoons/25 grams per day for women
      • 150 calories/ 9 teaspoons/37.5 grams per day for men

The World Health Organizations recommendations for added sugar:

      • no more that 10 % of total calories from sugar

Despite these recommendations, current statistics tell us that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar each year, averaging about one-third of a pound per day. This is more than 4 times the recommendation.

Authored by:   Janet Rathjens and the District Wellness Committee

Resources:

Harvard Health Publications, Sugar and Heart Disease

Global Research Center, Worst Foods for Thyroid

EBSCO, Catalyst, Sugar-Coating Science

Scientific American, Is Sugar Toxic

Psychology Today, Sugar and Mental Health

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