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2016 Healthy School Hero: Jason Feriend

Teacher, Joyce Kilmer Elementary School

In the fall of 2015, Jason Feriend, a father of two, joined the health and wellness team and was nominated Wellness Champion at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School. He has collaborated with multiple universities and professional sports teams to bring fun projects and health education to his students, including the Cubs Fun Run, the Chicago Fire Youth Ambassador Program, and ongoing projects with Northwestern and Loyola Universities where student volunteers provide activities and education in the classroom throughout the year.

Jason organized a Fall into Square Dancing event with the help of Action for Healthy Kids, Loyola University, Old Town School of Music and the Silver Stars. The event coincided with the school’s report card pick-up in order to get students and parents interested in the many ways to lead a healthy lifestyle. They decked out the gym with bales of hay and other barnyard decorations, while the Silver Stars led various dances. Loyola students set up information and healthy snack booths outside the gym for community members. For the next Salsa-themed fall dance, Jason used the school garden to create different types of salsa while Salsa lessons and dancing take place in the gym.

One of the next big projects for Jason is the creation of a fitness room for students, faculty and staff. The room has been cleared out, and the school is currently seeking funding to fill it with fitness equipment, including a rock climbing wall they will build themselves. Jason is especially excited about this project because he wants to spread healthy lifestyles to not only students but to the staff of Kilmer Elementary as well.