Seeing Successes in LAUSD
Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school district in the United States, and the office of Student Health and Human Services is deeply in tune with the needs of the district’s students and families. As a recipient of an Action for Healthy for Kids NourishEd grant, we sat down with William Celestine, Director of Wellness Programs, to learn how LAUSD is able to address some of the community’s toughest problems.
Q: What are some of the challenges the LAUSD communities face?
A: 85% of the families of the district are considered low income. Throughout the community, there are also high rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol that can shorten life expectancy. Therefore, it is our goal to address the whole child. We do so in a variety of ways such as partnerships, community engagement, grants, and school and district support.
Q: How have you used and leveraged AFHK funding to address the needs of the district?
A: Healthy Habits for Families is a curriculum that we wanted to expand where it was being used. The AFHK Family Connector was able to provide interactive workshops that combines physical activity and nutrition and the same key messages that students learn in school. Funding was used to provide families with the ingredients to participate but also with ingredients to take home. It was also used to purchase equipment to be able to implement the workshops.
We have also used the grant to fund our lucky tray program and were able to promote participation in the school meal program. One Healthy Start Navigator from Hawaiian Elementary said, “The students are very excited and happy with the incentives. The favorite incentives among younger students has been the chalk, and for the older students, it’s the soccer balls.”
Q: Any advice you would give other districts with similar challenges?
A: Take a balanced approach by informing and educating parents so that they can make healthy changes at home. This reinforces what students are learning in school and can have real impact.