WSCC Insta
The Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community (WSCC) grant kicked off at Intermediate South Sept. 14, 2018 with an initial meeting ... and Instagram post. The program enters its second year with great anticipation and momentum. 

July 16, 2019-- Around this time last year-- August 2018 to be specific-- Intermediate South became one of only 21 New Jersey schools in the region to be awarded the Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community (WSCC) Health Project, a grant-funded initiative from the New Jersey Department of Health in partnership with regional funder EmPoWER Somerset. Led by counselor Betty Velez-Gimbel, the project has not only been successful; it’s slowly starting to become an identifiable facet of the school.

“I attribute the success this past year to the unique structure of our team,” said Velez-Gimbel during a grantees summit at EmPoWER Somerset headquarters back in May.

That team was strategically designed to include a wide range of IS personnel, ensuring that the whole child approach to health and wellness would become part of the school’s culture. Principal Paul Gluck, teachers of all areas of curriculum, and community members comprise the 26-member project team. But even those not officially on the team have contributed. As Velez-Gimbel points out, “Our entire staff is vested and many have volunteered their time to make this a success.”

In its pilot year, the team worked to foster an environment that acknowledged and supported the benefits of physical and emotional health. The school established a nutritional corner; purchased and displayed nutritional information and motivational quotes throughout the school (see gallery below); advanced its Fitness Club; celebrated National Dine-In Week; and engaged staff and students in the process, such as through the creation of a massive Positive Energy Mural.

“Our approach with WSCC, in line with its model, is to explore and celebrate health and wellness in all its forms, from nutritional and physical health, to self-esteem, kindness, character education, collaboration, and inclusion,” said Velez-Gimbel. “With the support of Principal Gluck, our entire staff, and our community partners, we have done a great job doing just that.”

As the school enters the second year of the planned four-year program, it has grand plans. Among them:

  • Implementation of an after-school fitness program that includes a certified Generation/Pound Pro instructor Lisa Pepper (below), yoga instruction with Linda Higley, and collaboration with local gyms 
  • Improvements to the school’s fitness room for students and staff including exercise posters, yoga mats, floor mats for machines, and more
  • Campaign to reduce the amount of fruit wasted during lunch school-wide collaboration on a shared healthy recipes document
  • Hosting motivational, health-based speakers, including a presentation by Joetta Clark Diggs scheduled for Oct. 22
  • Annual Seminole staff day to foster positive relationships and fun at Beachwood Community Center, which has already been approved by Beachwood Mayor Ronald Roma in partnership with WSCC as part of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign

The NJDOH introduced WSCC with the hope of transforming the New Jersey public school landscape by directing resources to build and sustain healthy schools for all students. The WSCC model is based on the following principles: healthy children learn better; health and academic achievement are inextricably intertwined; schools are an ideal venue for chronic disease prevention; administrative and Board of Education support is critical for creating a culture of health in schools; and a commitment to systems change is required to sustain healthy schools.

“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of the Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community program and to witness its impact here at Intermediate South,” said Principal Paul Gluck. “School climate, culture, and health are all interrelated, and every day through WSCC our team is working to foster a healthy, fun, and inclusive environment for our students, our families, and each other. It’s clearly having a positive effect.”

Intermediate South will be seeking parents and community volunteers to help support its endeavors related to WSCC, and anyone interested in being a part of this initiative can contact Betty Velez-Gimbel at bvelezgimbel@trschools.com.