Recently, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA had the opportunity to sit down with Atlantic City School District’s Healthy U champion, Julie Land, to discuss her efforts in expanding Healthy U to other schools. Over her 30 year tenure as a Physical Education Teacher, Ms. Land has consistently tried to incorporate new methods and modules into her lesson plans that educate and encourage healthy and active living.
CCAYMCA: Has Healthy U made a difference?
Julie Land: “Absolutely; in physical education and in health, the program has made a difference in the way students approach decision making. Students tend to think twice about food choices and tend to be more active when given the opportunity to do so.”
CCAYMCA: Has the program been easy to integrate?
Julie Land: “It was fairly easy to integrate the program due to being a part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. A wellness team was in place and amazingly supportive. Naysayers even started to gravitate toward wanting to know more over time. It was important to keep those that share similar interests involved and their morale high—pictures are posted all over the halls with students participating in activities.”
CCAYMCA: Has it been easy to get new schools involved?
Julie Land: “Other PE Teachers are interested, however 5 physical education teachers were let go this year. The turnover has caused tremendous difficulty in soliciting new partnerships with other schools. New York Avenue Health and PE Teachers were not reinstated. Uptown Complex has shown interest.”
CCAYMCA: How has your perspective changed through participating?
Julie Land: “Communication with parents is the most difficult. Because of this, students are not active at home. However, next year I plan on integrating parents into the wellness committee. Also, Chefs with a Mission, will be incorporated into the plan to engage parents to cook healthier meals at home.”