There is really only one component of our Wellness in the Schools programming that combines all the ingredients of every WITS lesson into one celebratory tradition for the entire school community, and that is our WITS Family Fitness Fun Nights. This is an after-school event when students, students’ families, teachers, the school administration, WITS Chefs, and WITS Coaches bring all the elements of every WITS lesson that students learn throughout the school day and celebrate how they can use them after school and at home. It’s an event that demonstrates how fitness can not only be fun, but can bring families together, it can inspire families to move, play, and exercise together. This event drives home the message that food is fuel and how to best fuel and refuel to keep your body and mind strong. It’s an event where everyone is there for the same reason… to have fun and to feel good. Schools look forward to this event every year; it never disappoints. However, since the pandemic started, we had to either put these events on pause or carry them out virtually, which didn’t have the same magical impact. This year, as restrictions opened, so did the anticipation for the return of Family Fitness Fun Nights!
We relaunched our in-person events thoughtfully, limiting the number of participants per event to 100 to still allow for a safe space. We also started selectively in schools that could host their events outside instead of throughout the school building. Not only did these precautions keep everyone safe, but made the return to this event the most comfortable.
The first school to dive into their first all-outdoor WITS Family Fitness Fun Night was PS 294 in the Bronx. It was a huge success! This school’s community was so excited to re-launch this event and could not wait for the outdoor yoga, Zumba, WITS coach challenge, all the healthy dinner options, and of course, celebrating with the whole school community in-person once again! The action shots that were captured by PS 294 and joyfully posted on their social media page speak for themselves.
Every school to follow PS 294’s lead had similar outcomes as they gathered families for some outdoor fitness fun. However, what makes these events even more impactful is that we ultimately hand them over to the schools themselves to host their own Family Fitness Fun Nights. Once we host a few events with the school, we then train a school team member to carry them out without us. They have the WITS playbook and we provide support and connect them to available local resources, but the magic of a Family Fitness Fun Night is that the schools themselves continue to host their own events at their own pace and cadence.
PS 70 in the Bronx is a great example. A team at PS 70 organized and hosted their own Community Event including fun fitness activities, dancing, healthy drinks, and power snacks. Wellness in the Schools contributed as a partner but PS 70 was the orchestrator. The students, their families, teachers, and the entire school administration participated in this event and are forever empowered to maintain their own school’s wellness culture. THIS is our WHY.