School & Community News

New this year: Lessons in kindness
February 20, 2021
Illustration by  Keiwoun, first grader, Cole Manor Elementary School.

February 2021…Healthy NewsWorks recently launched a new series of lessons called Kind Kids for children ages 5 to 8 who are in our Cub Reporter program.

First and second graders are learning about how to be a good friend, why adequate sleep is important, and how to reduce stress. In all, more than 125 reporters in six classrooms at Cole Manor Elementary School in Norristown and Laura Waring School in Philadelphia took part in the virtual lessons in January. They will contribute articles and illustrations to their school’s health newspapers.

“Our class loved the Cub Reporter Kind Kids program,” said Diane Sasso, a Cole Manor first grade teacher. “The lessons about the heart, friendship, stress, and sleep have been invaluable, especially during this time of virtual learning through a pandemic. The lessons were thoughtful, meaningful, and engaging, which is why our students enjoyed them so much.”

In February, five classrooms at Norristown’s Whitehall Elementary School—including a class of 20 kindergarteners—began receiving Kind Kids lessons.

Giving kids tools for improving their health

Healthy NewsWorks developed the Kind Kids program after receiving positive feedback from educators about its three-year-old Hearty Kids program, which focuses on the connection between heart health and nutrition, physical activity, and stress. Teachers also expressed enthusiasm for additional lessons that address positive behaviors and emotional health.

“Our goal is to reach more kids and to give them tools for improving their emotional and physical health, which are especially important during this time of great change,” said Mia Blitstein, Healthy NewsWorks program manager, who led the Kind Kids curriculum development effort. “We also want to involve as many students as possible in the newspaper project, and help them to share important health information with their families and communities.”

Healthy NewsWorks is also offering Hearty Kids virtually this year, starting with a second grade classroom at Philadelphia’s William Cramp Elementary School.

In addition to the classroom lessons, Healthy NewsWorks provides a take-home book for each child in the Cub Reporter program to help engage the child’s family in positive health messages.

Putting the pieces together

Two experienced teachers share responsibility for delivering the Kind Kids program: Sarah Lowing, Healthy NewsWorks program associate; and Robyn Herman, a volunteer. As with all Healthy NewsWorks programming, we partner with classroom teachers in the schools to deliver the lessons.

“In this challenging year, everyone at Healthy NewsWorks sends a big shout-out to all our teacher colleagues who have worked with us and invited us into their virtual classrooms to help students learn important health information and how to share it with others,” said Marian Uhlman, Healthy NewsWorks executive director. “We are very grateful for their support and partnership.”

Are you interested in bringing the Cub Reporter program to a classroom? Please contact Mia Blitstein, program manager, at mblistein@healthynewsworks.org.

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.