During the 2014 school year, Bergen County Technical High School (BCTS) students in Paramus looked into the eyes of students at the Bergen County Special Services (BCSS) Bleshman, Washington and Montesano schools. What they saw there was, and is, a reflection of themselves that exceeded self-expectation. This experience changed the way they view themselves and their potential to make change in the world. As one student observed: “It was an eye-opening experience that taught me a valuable lesson that I will treasure forever.”
Over 75% of BCTS-Paramus students (100% of full time population) experience some form of learning disability, 39% are economically disadvantaged, 49% represent minority groups and 100% travel up to 15 miles per day from over 70 Bergen County municipalities to attend the school on a full (295) or part-time basis (262). These students shared their campus with 268 BCSS K-12th grade students (41% economically disadvantaged; 57% minority) who attend the BCSS Bleshman, Montesano and Washington special education programs.. Over 37% of these students experience multiple disabilities, 43% are students with autism spectrum disorder, and 20% are high school students with disabilities in need of life skills.
Shaping Bergen addresses the fitness and wellness needs of both student populations and of the communities in which they live. It does so through the creation of a program of physical activities and community awareness activities that brings together students from BCTS and BCSS schools. These students benefit from the joint use of a soon-to-be installed, ADA compliant, eight station fitness circuit and the revision of PE curriculum to include use of this new fitness equipment and the delivery of community awareness activities. This past April, for example, 32 BCTS students partnered with BCSS students in a “Roll-A-Thon” fitness event that raised over $1800 to send needy students to camp.
SHAPING BERGEN 2015 –
CREATING A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
To “kick-off” the start of the new school year, Shaping Bergen plans to “unveil” the new fitness circuit with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The fitness/wellness campaign for FY15, fun fitness, healthy eating and community gardening, will be promoted at this jointly-conducted event. Other activities that bring together BCTS and BCSS students will include a National Circus that will teach students how to juggle, the creation/dissemination of a “My Favorite Healthy Food” recipe book, a Jump-a-Thon, and the 8th Annual Roll-A-Thon/Presidential Fitness Challenge.
In 2014-15 the BCTS-BCSS partnership also hopes to plant a community vegetable/herb garden within a short walk from new outdoor fitness equipment. The garden will be operated by BCTS and BCSS students as a community service activity. Gardening activities will also be integrated into health, PE and science instruction to promote fitness, healthy eating, sustainability, and environmental awareness. Produce from the garden will be used by BCTS Culinary Arts students and by the BCTS and BCSS cafeteria to prepare student meals. The maintenance of the garden throughout the year will be supported through the establishment of partnerships with gardening, senior citizen and other local community groups.