Physical Activity + Wellness (PAW) Program

What is PAW?
PAW: the Physical Activity and Wellness Program, is the district’s flagship school based wellness initiative, developed by the Wellness Committee, that provides school infrastructure in the form of School Wellness Teams (SWT) and supports efforts that promote the awareness and practice of good health behaviors school-wide.
PAW History: 
 PAW began as a pilot program in 6 schools in 2005 to meet an unfunded state mandate (2004) that required a daily period of physical activity for K-5 students. The District Wellness Committee submitted a proposal to integrate classroom physical activity and provide more health promotion and was funded by the Connecticut Health Foundation (CHF) . Since then, PAW’s focus and foundation has broadened to its current model which includes these 3 components:

Three Components
1.   School Wellness Team: The Backbone of PAW
2.   School-wide health promotion efforts/campaigns led by the wellness teams
3.   Integration of daily physical activity into grades K-5  through either or a combination of: recess, classroom based activity or PE class.

A Closer look at PAW’s 3 Components:
 1. School Wellness Teams (SWT): School wellness teams are the foundation of PAW at each school to address and promote school specific health/wellness.  The School Wellness Team (SWT) is led by a designated PAW facilitator and its members include a representative mix of school staff, administrators, and often parents.  The facilitator is a staff member of the school, and receives a yearly stipend to oversee the monthly SWT meetings and all PAW health promotion efforts in the school.
The purpose of the SWT is:
1. To address all wellness issues that arise in the school,
2. To promote health/wellness school-wide through school campaigns, programs, contests and
3. To inform staff and parents about wellness activities and information.  Parents and staff are encouraged to bring any health/wellness issues to the SWT facilitator and to participate in the meetings and/or activities.
2. School-wide Health Promotion Efforts/Campaigns
Each year, the PAW SWTs identify priority areas that it will address that school year based on school specific needs. Most select 2 per year and develop multi-faceted campaigns around each topic for several months to raise awareness about the issue and to provide opportunities to practice good health behaviors. Using PAW funding, the SWT might purchase materials for their campaigns.
 What is a school health campaign??
A variety of intensive and interactive activities/education about a specific topic for a limited time (2-3 months) that involves all students and all staff.  

 Example: Hygiene Campaign        
Using PAW funds, the SWT purchases cases of purell hand sanitizer bottles and cases of Kleenex for each classroom, handwashing demonstration kits, Wash Your Hands posters in English/Spanish for bathrooms, contest materials for posters, germ detective contest items, prizes for students, pamphlets for parents.
 Campaign Activities engaging entire school. September-November

  • Information about germ spread prevention on PAW/school Bulletin Boards
  • All classes receive hygiene items and binders with  topic information and hand outs/activities for students
  • Students in certain grades prepare/ announce hygiene facts during morning announcements
  • Fact sheets about Flu prevention and proper hygiene sent to parents through SBHC or with school newsletter
  • Hand washing posters placed in all bathrooms
  • School nurse or SBHC staff present interactive hand washing demonstrations to classes using “Bag of Germs” or lend the kit to teachers
  • Younger grades participate in  hygiene poster contests (focus on dental care, hand washing, cover your cough, etc.) with the art teacher (no additional class time used)
  • Older grades participate in contest: “The Top 10 places germs hide in school” (Involves discussion and research about germ transmission and life cycles, prevention and the most commonly used areas in the school. Can be given as homework assignments or library work.
  • Students are awarded prizes and winners announced at end of campaign


Purpose: To raise awareness throughout the school about health issues and healthy behaviors in an engaging, fun way without using limited class time.                       

$upport for Health Promotion Campaigns/Activities:
Through grants, each PAW school wellness team may apply for funding to support health promotion campaigns, programs and activities. Over the past 3 years, many effective and innovative activities/projects have happened in all our PAW schools with this funding and the strong commitment and efforts of the school teams and entire staff. Examples of funded projects include:  Healthy snack taste testings, Walk Across America Program, fitness bags for students, yoga materials/programs, in-school garden programs, hygiene campaigns; nutrition campaigns with multiple contests/demonstrations; sponsored workshops for parents
Materials such as posters, bag of germs (handwashing demonstrations), pedometers, toothbrushes/toothpaste and dental models of good/poor orals hygiene; bullying prevention programs with incentive gifts; water bottles, purell bottles/tissue for classrooms; etc.  
 3. Integration of daily physical activity for grades K-5
The district’s policy is that daily physical activity for these grades can be met through either or a combination of: Recess, classroom based physical activity or PE class.
All K-5 teachers in the PAW schools received training and materials for one of two classroom based physical activity programs: Take 10! and ABC for Fitness. The district has adopted ABC for Fitness, developed by Dr. David Katz at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, as our official program that will be available to new schools as we expand.
 Where is PAW?
Currently, PAW is in the following 18 K-8 schools. The District is pursing funding to expand PAW district-wide.
Hill Central
Clinton Ave
V. Mauro    
Nathan Hale
East Rock   
Davis Street
J. Daniels    
Bishop Woods       
 Does PAW Work?
A three-year evaluation of PAW was conducted in collaboration with the Yale Clinical Scholars Program and evaluation consultant from Columbia University. The final analysis and results from multi surveys from teachers and students was recently completed and will be available as a report shortly.
 Results reveal that PAW has had a positive impact on student behavior and awareness about healthy behaviors, in addition to increased physical activity in school.
 Highlighted Findings:
PAW has made a significant positive impact in the following areas:

  • School Culture and student awareness about healthy behaviors
  • Student Behavior/focus on task
  • Class Climate
  • Physical activity during school

 For more information about PAW, please contact:
Sue Peters
Director: PAW Program