Originally published May 27, 2019 in This Week’s Community News.

By Alan Froman

As the school year was nearing its end, Stevenson Elementary School students took part in a field day May 21, romping through games, activities and inflatables set up at Pierce Field.

“It’s our traditional day of celebrating the end of the school year and letting the kids blow off some steam after a year of hard work,” Stevenson physical-education teacher Tom Gilbert said.

Alan Froman photo

The event is a longtime tradition at Stevenson — but it’s not exactly what former students might remember from their field days.

In fact, Stevenson doesn’t even call it field day anymore.

“This is the third year we’ve called it Wellness Day, and it’s a mix of traditional field-day activities with wellness activities,” Gilbert said.

Wellness Day ties into Grandview Heights Schools’ focus on creating a Wellness for Life curriculum for students in grades K-12, he said.

A district wellness committee developed the curriculum that incorporates teaching and learning, food and nutrition services, counseling, athletics, extracurriculars, a wellness center at the high school, and community partnerships into the overall vision, Gilbert said.

Each building has a wellness team that meets regularly to plan activities and initiatives for students, he said.

“Our team includes teachers, administrators and community members,” Gilbert said. “It’s a real community effort.”

Academic success involves more than developing students’ brain power, he said.

“We know that a student’s physical and mental well-being can have a direct impact on their success in learning,” Gilbert said.

“If you’re not feeling good physically or feeling good about yourself, you’re more likely to struggle in the classroom.”

As part of this year’s Wellness Day, second- and third-graders participated in a hockey clinic in the Stevenson gym, presented by the Columbus Blue Jackets school outreach program.

“They’re learning about playing hockey and the need to include some physical activity in your day to improve your well-being,” Gilbert said.

Yellowbird Foodshed founder Benji Ballmer talked to kindergarten and first-grade students during the event about the process of growing food, from seed to dining-room table.

“The earlier you can help students understand where the food they eat comes from, the easier it is to help them understand the importance of making healthy food choices through their life,” Ballmer said.

Yellowbird, headquartered in Mount Vernon, is one of the suppliers of food items for the school district’s Ohio Days lunch program.

One day each month, the lunch menu in Grandview schools features only foods entirely produced or processed in Ohio.

The district’s PTOs have partnered with Yellowbird to offer families the chance to purchase Ohio Farm Food Boxes that will be delivered weekly through Nov. 22.

Each box contains a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables and are available in three sizes, ranging in price from $20 to $40 per box.

Add-on items such as meats, eggs and cheese are available through Yellowbird’s online store.

“The idea for the Yellowbird Foodshed Ohio Farm Food Box started with discussions around the district’s focus on wellness and how we could build upon the successful Foodie Friday program and Ohio Days special lunch menus by offering easy access to fresh, locally grown foods to our school families,” said Lindsay Bills, co-chairwoman of the food-box program with Megan Hatta.

Bills said she and Hatta are Yellowbird customers.

“We felt the Ohio Farm Food Box and the access to their participating farmers and small businesses could offer enhancements to the K-12 wellness curriculum,” she said. “The option to receive a box of fresh and locally grown foods to use at home connects the concepts students are exploring in the classroom to home cooking and exploring with family.”

Yellowbird delivers food boxes throughout central Ohio, Ballmer said.

“We partner with a number of small family and urban farms,” he said. “Along with promoting healthy eating, part of our mission is to celebrate and support the small, sustainable farms in our state.”

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