Monticello is empowering a healthier generation

Sullivan 180 hosted its first Empowering a Healthier Generation Celebration at Bethel Woods earlier this month. Monticello’s Healthier Generation advisors, Amanda Depew, Scott Cooper, Elisa Mendels, Maryann Swensen, and Sarah Mootz, attended the event. They were also joined by the district’s Wellness Coordinator, Dana Taylor and Superintendent Dr. Matthew Evans.

Ms. Depew and Ms. Taylor spoke on behalf of Monticello with where they started, what they’ve done so far, and what their next moves are to empower a healthier generation within the district.

How far we’ve come

Back in 2015, the district started with the Catskill Edible Garden Project through Sullivan Renaissance. There were a handful of members on the Wellness Committee, consisting of elementary teachers and community partners. The Social Emotional Wellness teachers were on special assignment to the program.

Chalk on the blacktop that says Radiate Positive Vibes in different pastel colors

Fast forward six years. We have connected the dots between body, mind and spirit. Now our Wellness Committee consists of 20 students, parents, partners and all five of our buildings are represented. We have increased community partners and revised our wellness policy.

Wellness champions and advisors within each school develop intentional programs to meet the needs of both staff and students.

Elementary school kids doing yoga in a classroom.

There is yoga in all elementary schools and the middle school. Gardens are providing healthy vegetables in our schools. Mental health awareness is taught and strategies put in place for those needing assistance.

At Monticello High School, movement is encouraged with Step into Spring and May Muscle Hustle. There are under the desk bikes to keep kids moving even while they’re sitting! The high school and middle school are collaborating to build a wellness trail. There are positivity messages, a mood meter, yoga for staff and lessons for students to help them rethink their drink and how to eat healthy on a budget.

A zig zap drawn on blacktop with two older students weaving their way through it.At RJK Middle School, in addition to the wellness trail, there are Fitness Fridays, yoga in the classroom and outdoor fitness stations. Social Emotional Learning classes are taught as well as a skills-based education curriculum. We are initiating a mood meter and there is also an outdoor learning area.

At our elementary schools, there are edible gardens, outdoor fitness trails andSeveral raised garden boxes. At each box, there are students nearby working on them. games, yoga in the classroom and mental health awareness lessons.

More to come

There are plans to enhance and expand the RJK Fitness Trail and to develop one at Cooke Elementary School. More outdoor learning spaces are planned with embellished and rebirthed gardens. Stenciled and painted games on blacktop are also in the works so our students can play hopscotch and basketball, among other playground games.

We are working diligently to help create a healthier student body and empower a healthier generation.Two students standing on blacktop. At each of their feet is a circle of different colored dots - blue, red, yellow, orange, green