the WELL campaign

Hans Hageman

School Wellness Champion: Hans hageman

Hans_in_garden - Hans Hageman.JPG

Organization Leader, Advocate & Educator // Hudson Valley

WHAT do you believe when it comes to schools supporting children’s health and well-being? How does this belief connect to your core values or life experiences? Has it changed over time - how and why?

My beliefs were developed as a founder of three schools (two in Harlem and one in India). I saw children who had embodied trauma from different sources and I looked for a way to help them heal themselves. This also involved healing their relationship with Nature as well as their internal healing. I agree in many ways with Frank Forencich, who says we need to from wellness to re-learning "wildness" - regaining our biophilia and direct connection to Nature. We also need to be more concerned with our "health and wellness span" rather than our "life span."

WHY do you believe that school wellness needs to be a priority? WHY does it matter to you?

School wellness can set students up for a lifetime of self-reliance, productivity, happiness, and service. When wellness becomes a habit, students can then focus on pursuing their life's purpose.

Is the school you work in a “healthy school”? What are some of its successes and challenges?

The biggest challenge is putting a wellness plan into action.

Describe a challenge or supportive experience (related to health and well-being) that you have seen a child/children encounter while in school.

I have seen children develop a desire to include vegetables in their meals, increase curiosity about the sources of their food, and learn that movement is a part of being human and isn't limited to members of athletic teams. I have also seen children develop a meditation practice and seek out time in Nature.

Describe an element of school wellness that you have advocated for. What successes and challenges did you face?

There have been several including meatless meals, setting aside more time for movement practice, bringing in a meditation practice.

If you could talk to your legislators about school wellness what would you tell them? What would you ask them?

School wellness must be comprehensive and seek to include families. Programs should be developed that include youth as their own investigators and advocates on the path to wellness. Legislation must also be developed that includes all school staff in teaching/coaching wellness. Legislation needs to incorporate bottom-up development and top-down support. Infrastructure from proper kitchens to challenging play spaces all need to be a part of it. There also needs to be adequate promotion/publicity so that legislative efforts don't just fall into a hole.