From left to right, wellness committee members Leonor Ramirez, Ana Santander, Myrna Villafuerte, Jovita Flores, Gabriela Vazquez, Maria Solis and Maricarmen DiazDeLeon stand with their Exemplary Wellness Team award from Chicago Public Schools.

Greene Elementary Lauded for Exemplary Wellness

Published January 21, 2020

Nathanael Greene Elementary School in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago received another plaudit this past fall when Chicago Public Schools pegged Greene as an exemplary spot for its health and wellness initiatives. The Healthy CPS program establishes standards and goals for health care access, nutrition, exercise and resources, with Greene leading the pack in all categories, thanks to the school's health and wellness committee: a group of staff, community partners and parents.

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"When we have parents involved, we are sending out a message to our children that we care," said Greene's Healthy CPS Manager Jovita Flores, a 12-year veteran of the Healthy CPS program, nine of them at Greene Elementary. "There are many different aspects to promoting a healthy lifestyle," she said.

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Nathanael Greene Elementary School Exemplary Wellness Team Award trophyThe Exemplary Wellness Team award celebrates the accomplishment of Nathanael Greene Elementary School.

Healthy CPS Categories

The Healthy CPS program focuses on four areas to enable student wellness. Support for students suffering from chronic diseases like asthma, food allergies and diabetes relies on student identification, staff training and making proper accommodation for these illnesses. In-school instruction considers educational time spent on nutrition, physical fitness and sexual health.

The "Learnwell" category in Healthy CPS considers access to healthy foods and physical activity throughout the day, such as active recess periods, setting school meal nutrition standards and promoting a healthy lifestyle through events. Health services looks at compliance for exams and immunizations, as well as screenings and exams for vision and dental needs. 

"If we live a healthy lifestyle, our families will be able to as well," said Leonor Ramirez, a parent member of the health and wellness committee.

Wellness Champion

"I have enjoyed receiving information from our nutrition workshops and being able to practice it at home," said parent and wellness committee member Maricarmen DiazDeLeon. "Eating healthy helps my child concentrate in school."

The Greene committee picked Assistant Principal Myrna Villafuerte as the "champion" to implement these health and wellness policies at the school. Working together, they presented events throughout the school year promoting healthy lifestyles and brought in nutrition workshops with the help of community partners.

"We would like to challenge our community," Ramirez said. "If we can get more parents involved ... we can really make a difference." 

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