Since 2006, public schools have been required by federal law to adopt and implement a wellness policy that promotes student health through nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities.
Wellness policies also include nutrition guidelines for all foods available at school. The federal law also requires the involvement of parents, students, the school board, school administrators and the public in the development of the local school district wellness policy.
In 2007, a group of concerned parents, teachers and citizens in the school district decided to work together to promote a healthier environment in Topeka Public Schools. A few months later, the Topeka Public Schools Health Council was formed. Members of the committee came from throughout the community. They included individuals from the medical field, businesses and organizations as well as parents and school staff. They began meeting at Topeka High School.
The Board of Education recognized the health council in March 2008, with administrative regulation 8235-1 that described the council’s role and membership. Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, a former school board member, was elected to lead the council. One of the first actions of the health council was to survey all schools in the district to assess to what extent they met the standards for nutrition and physical activity recommended by the Kansas State Department of Education. The health council presented its Wellness Policies and Practices in Schools report to the Board of Education in January of 2009.
In the past few years, multiple schools have held family fitness fun nights to promote exercise and health eating habits. The district has held two district-wide family fitness fun nights at Hummer Sports Park.
The health council meets on a regular basis and continues its goal of a healthy life style for all students and staff of Topeka Public Schools.