In Wellness, Deer Park Looks SHARP

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Deer Park was chosen by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services as the second annual SHARP Award winner, out of a field of more than 40 applicants. The district was honored at a June 10 ceremony at the high school’s auditorium, where members of administration and the Board of Education were presented with a certificate by Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County’s commissioner of health services.

This prestigious recognition was earned in part due to the district’s outstanding wellness policy, in which Deer Park worked with Healthy Schools NY and Western Suffolk BOCES to develop a comprehensive policy which promotes healthy foods and adequate time for lunch, limits fundraising to healthy foods or nonfood items, limits the frequency of classroom celebrations that involve food to no more than one per class per month, encourages daily stretching and movement activities in the classroom in which teachers guide students through physical activity breaks, enables the use of school facilities by community groups to promote physical activity, includes nutrition education as part of classroom instruction rather than just in health education classes, and prohibits soft drink logos on school property.

Another achievement that significantly contributed to Deer Park being chosen for the SHARP award was the third annual Health & Wellness Fair, a free public event held last November which included numerous health-related activities and more than 40 informational booths.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services develops and implements programs designed to help children adopt healthy nutritional practices and increase physical activity. It was required in 2012 by New York State to collaborate with Nassau County, Long Island hospitals and community agencies to conduct a community health assessment and create a community health plan for the years 2014-2017. The collaborative team became an entity called the Long Island Health Collaborative, which chose two priority areas to focus on for the coming years, chronic diseases and obesity. The SHARP Award was created in 2013 to recognize school districts that promote wellness in the educational environment and in the community.

“The movement in health care is toward wellness, prevention and personal responsibility,” said Tomarken. “The Deer Park School District, through its policies and activities, is helping to promote healthy choices that support wellness and has earned the 2015 SHARP Award.”