by Gladys Neigel
Indigo Christian Junior Academy (ICJA) in Daytona Beach is making news this year as the pilot school for CREATION Health Schools, a three-way partnership between ICJA, Florida Hospital, and Florida Conference.
A CREATION Health School is one in which the CREATION Health principles are applied to the school as an institution, with the goal of holistic health for all within the school’s influence. “We are not only seeking to teach CREATION Health principles to our students; we want to help them live it,” says Jerry Wasmer, Daytona Beach Church pastor. “As a board, as staff, and as a whole school, it became clear we would have to live it also.
“We wanted to see what it would look like if we allowed these God-given principles to affect every area of our school—not just to see how we measure up, but because we believe God wants us to grow. We quickly saw that His vision is much broader and much better than we would have ever thought.”
Board members decided they wanted to see these principles reflected in the DNA of the school, allowing the principles to impact planning and decision-making in every area, from lunch programs to building plans, policy to paint color, from parent training to the day-to-day functions of the school. Nothing would be off limits.
Preparation for the pilot program began during the 2010–2011 school year with the school board, teachers, and students learning health principles covered by the CREATION acronym. The school board systematically measured every area of the school against the ideals, taking note of areas needing improvement and already strong areas that could be built upon. The board set a limited number of major goals for the following year. Students collectively set classroom goals for the 2011–2012 pilot year with teams of students empowered to implement the following goals and ensure they were reached:
A classroom economy model to learn money management and how to make responsible decisions.
Weekly sleep charts with a goal of eight hours.
Eight live plants per classroom.
Pedometers, set walking goals, and plan a fitness trail.
30 minutes in prayer every Wednesday and a Prayer Lock-in event.
Student of the week and a school bonding campout.
Classroom commitment to speak positively, and a funny wall to go to for a laugh when life gets them down.
Weekly “vegetable tray day” for a healthy snack.
The upper grades completed a week of classes at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in February. As a combination of their science curriculum and CREATION Health, students learned many aspects involved in healing the whole person. In addition to regular class work, students spent time each day learning from health professionals, experiencing the work done in different departments, and participating in hands-on projects in several areas including nutrition and pastoral care. Their visit to the pathology lab, where students examined an amputated foot with gangrene and a lung complete with a tumor, was covered in the journal, ADVANCE for Medical Laboratory Professionals.
“It is so exciting to visit the upper grades at ICJA under Principal Kari Wasmer,” says Sandra Doran, Florida Conference Associate Superintendent of Education. “The students are functioning at their best—making decisions, taking ownership, and fully engaging in important tasks that matter to them.”
Wasmer, principal and Grades 5–8 teacher; Calina Gibbs, Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher; and Karen Thomas, Grades 1–4 teacher, have seen the following results since implementing the CREATION Health Schools pilot program:
- Enrollment more than doubled.
- More community visibility and better reputation.
- Improved test scores.
- Students more engaged and empowered.
- Student attitudes are positive and constructive.
“ICJA students say that CREATION Health is awesome and exciting, because it makes learning fun,” says Lynell LaMountain, Senior Manager of CREATION Health/Mission Development for Florida Hospital. “They love finding new ways to apply the principles of God’s original plan for living an abundant life. It’s transforming their lives and school.”
“Christ’s ministry reaches the whole person,” explains Pastor Wasmer, “and our schools are a prime venue for impacting the current and future health of our children. All we’re really doing is trying to sense God’s direction and join His mission to help His kids live healthy, happy, and productive lives.”