I live in Buffalo, NY. I came back to Buffalo by way of San Francisco, where, after having lived for almost ten years, our conversations with friends revolved around which new bar to go to and whether we could start calling ourselves native San Franciscans. It was a carefree time of good Internet jobs, travel, parties, and no kids.
But then it happened. Worlds collided. The dot com bubble burst, my marketing job vanished, and I had a brand new baby girl. Quite suddenly we were back in Buffalo,NY.
I immediately tried to redefine myself in those first years back. Although I had a small child and I was lucky to have a husband who had quickly established a successful construction company, I wanted to work. Buffalo wasn’t much of an Internet hub but we were surrounded by an incredibly rich stock of turn of the century houses. I leveraged this to my advantage and became a real estate agent in a staggeringly swollen sea of agents. This afforded me time and sometimes lots of it. Excruciatingly tedious time where I questioned my ability to successfully contribute to much of anything. So I decided to drag myself out of the muck of stagnation and build a playground. A big playground and greenhouse at the new building of my daughter’s charter school where they had land. It was a complete 360 from the former building with its tiny urban grounds where the kids regularly played “catch the hobo.”
I spent the better part of a year planning, raising funds, seeking out community partners and finally building the playground with a group of dedicated parents. At the time I had a 4th grader and a preschooler and the project was a great success for them and their peers and it was a nice compliment to the healthy, whole child belief that the school already had. Through the project I developed a focus on health and wellness as it applied to children in schools. I went on to become a consultant with the playground company I had worked with to continue to promote and advocate for healthy kids within our schools.
When my oldest daughter left the charter school for a Buffalo Public School things changed. Gone were the fresh lunches, the recess, and the regular physical activity she had grown used to. As I saw it I had no choice other than to get involved and advocate for a paradigm shift, one in which we looked at our failures and ever decreasing graduation rates and instead focused on building the foundation of whole child,whole school, and whole community as a means of influencing educational reform.
I currently serve on our District’s Health Council and I am co chair of the District’s nutrition committee.
About the Blog
This blog is meant to be used as a resource for parents, students, and communities. Nationwide there is a momentum building that embraces the concept of whole healthy children as they directly relate to improvements in the classroom. As we move forward, more and more public school districts are coming into compliance with the development of their nationally mandated wellness policies. This is new territory for many of us. This blog will explore what we are doing as a district and what I am doing as a parent as it relates to wellness in our schools.