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An evaluation of a Southern Rhode Island school district's health and wellness initiatives

Catherine G Moffitt, Johnson & Wales University


Legislators have taken proactive measures to improve the wellness of the children in Rhode Island in accordance with the Child Nutrition and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Appendix B) (Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004). The General Law pertaining to School Committees and Superintendents, section 16-2-9 (Appendix C), was amended in February 2005 to require that each school district in Rhode Island establish wellness goals within their strategic plans as well as create Health and Wellness Advisory Committees within their districts. The goal of these initiatives is to generate policies and programs that will contribute to the health and wellness of both students and faculty (An Act Relating to Education, 2005). In 2005, before the law was passed, Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), conducted a study to determine what school districts were doing to improve their nutrition policies. The study determined that throughout the state, there was a wide variety of nutrition policies and different processes of implementation (Rhode Island Department of Education, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, & ETR Associates, 2007). This study evaluated how one school district complied with this mandate and the progress that has been made since the law was passed. The purpose of this mixed methods research was to explore the perception of stakeholders within one Southern Rhode Island school district to determine the level of implementation of their Nutrition and Physical Activity Policy (Appendix D) (Herr, & Anderson, 1994). The members of the staff in the targeted district completed a School Health and Wellness Checklist available from the state (N = 98). Three focus group interviews were conducted with members of the Wellness Committee, Site Councils, and Parent Teacher Organizations (N = 33). Data were collected and triangulated to determine the components which correlate with the success of the Wellness Committee (Patton, 2002). Descriptive and inferential statistics (i.e., ANOVA) were utilized. The results of this study indicate the stakeholders within the district perceive the Nutrition and Physical Activity Policy as being implemented. The major barrier identified through the research was the lack of communication other concerns identified included the lack of physical activity opportunities, and opportunities for staff wellness. Communication was an integral barrier identified for non-compliance with the policy. The findings of this study will support the development of an action plan, which will promote this district's Wellness Policy and their goals within the strategic plan.

Subject Area

Health education

Recommended Citation

Moffitt, Catherine G, "An evaluation of a Southern Rhode Island school district's health and wellness initiatives" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3315754.