Boston Moves for Health challenges Boston Public Schools to increase student physical activity

Last week, Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino announced several exciting developments that will improve student health and wellness in Boston Public Schools (BPS).

The Mayor announced that donations from Partners HealthCare and Shaw’s and Star Market will provide support for 105 Wellness Champions in 100 schools and help educate students about healthy eating.  To celebrate, Mayor Menino launched two challenges in schools: the Physical Education Challenge and Physical Activity Challenge.

For the Physical Education Challenge, from October 15 through November 9, BPS schools will compete for the most steps taken by students during physical education classes. The Physical Activity Challenge, from January 15 to February 15, students will compete to log the most minutes of physical activity during the school day. All data will be logged into the Boston Moves for Health website so city youth can contribute to meeting Mayor Menino’s citywide 10 million mile challenge. Winning schools will receive funding for curriculum and athletic equipment.

In a press release, the Mayor said:

“Today’s students have a lot on their plates to balance, but their health is our highest priority. We know that kids who maintain a healthy lifestyle do better in the classroom, so it’s only natural that we encourage good habits in schools. This partnership is a fun and engaging way to promote healthy choices, and I want to thank Partners and Shaw’s for their commitment to keeping our kids in shape.”

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Clap Innovation School in the News

Governor Patrick reading with students at the Roger Clap Innovation School on September 13. Photo: Matt Bennett/Governor's Office

Dorchester’s Roger Clap Innovation School, the first Innovation School in Boston Public Schools (BPS), has been in the news lately. A new City Connects school for this academic year, the Clap’s Innovation status gives it the freedom to take a creative approach to school transformation. As one of 18 Innovation Schools in Massachusetts, the Clap was awarded a $50,000 Innovation School Implementation Grant by the state to train teachers and to prepare them for the school’s curriculum.

To kick off the school year, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, along with BPS Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson, cut a ribbon at the school on September 7 to officially open the school. Read about the Mayor and Superintendent’s visit in the Boston Globe story, “Roger Clap Innovation School officially opens in Dorchester.”

On September 13, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Education Paul Reville visited the Clap, which you can also read about in the Globe: “At Clap school in Dorchester, Patrick stresses closing achievement gap.”

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Three Massachusetts Groups Awarded “Promise Neighborhood” Planning Grants

The U.S. Department of Education yesterday awarded 21 “Promise Neighborhood” planning grants to nonprofit organizations and universities across the country, three of which are based in Massachusetts. The one-year grants of up to $500,000 are designed to help these groups create plans to provide comprehensive “cradle to career” services for children.

“Communities across the country recognize that education is the one true path out of poverty,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These Promise Neighborhoods applicants are committed to putting schools at the center of their work to provide comprehensive services for young children and students.”

The Massachusetts winners are Community Day Care Center of Lawrence, Inc. in Lawrence, the United Way of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston.

As reported in the Boston Globe, “the $500,000 grant to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community-based organization, represents a major milestone in replicating the Harlem Children’s Zone locally. For years, different groups of city leaders, philanthropists, and community activists have toured the Harlem program, returning each time to Boston energized, but unable to sustain the momentum.”

One of City Connects’ schools, Orchard Gardens, is located in Dudley Street’s target neighborhood of Roxbury, which is also part of Boston Mayor Tom Menino’sCircle of Promise,” a 5-square-mile area in where the Mayor and Boston Public Schools have been trying to set up a coalition to provide wraparound services for children. Dudley Street will partner with the City of Boston, nonprofit groups, philanthropists, after-school providers, religious leaders, and universities to advance this agenda.

Next year, the President has requested $210 million in his budget, including $200 million to support implementation of Promise Neighborhood projects and $10 million for planning grants for new communities.

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Education Secretary Visits Boston’s Quincy School

Secretary Duncan
Secretary Duncan

On a day-long visit to Boston today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be holding a round-table discussion about school-community partnerships at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. The Quincy school is one of City Connects’ largest elementary schools with nearly 800 students and two site coordinators.

Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Boston
Josiah Quincy Elementary School, Boston

Mary E. Walsh, executive director of CCNX and the Kearns Professor of Urban Education and Innovative Leadership at Boston College, and Pat DiNatale, CCNX director of implementation, will be representing City Connects in the discussion, which will also be attended by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Superintendent Carol R. Johnson.  Following the discussion, second- and third-grade Quincy students are scheduled to perform a traditional dance in honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Secretary Duncan is also planning to pay tribute to Boston Educators of the Year as part of a discussion with them about effective strategies for academic success.