Camelot of Bourbonnais – A Health Conscious Campus
Things are moving in a very healthy direction at Camelot’s therapeutic school in Bourbonnais, IL.
Since taking on the role of the principal in August, Allison Watford has added a healthy eating initiative for students and launched a fitness program with newly acquired exercise equipment for her staff.
“There is a group of us who have young children and don’t have time to get to the gym,” Watford said. “I’m not one of those fit people but I’m really trying. Having our own equipment right here will be a big help to all of us.”
One of the school’s faculty members is a former athletic trainer. She selected the equipment and sets up a circuit training 2-3 times a week. Staff members can use the equipment and even some of the high school students who like to lift weights are allowed to do so. Watford discovered she could use health insurance wellness funds to pay for the equipment.
Perhaps the even more important health-related program at the school is for students.
“Many of our multi-needs students might eat one or maybe two things and then if you can get them to eat anything else their parents and teachers are ecstatic,” Watford said. “We are trying in our curriculum to teach kids about healthier choices. Every Tuesday we have a new meal that everybody can try. Some of those items have been chicken quesadillas, grilled meats and various fruits. We’ve been noticing that our students are choosing the healthier side item like an apple instead of chips or a cookie. We are also surveying the entire school on whether they prefer the new offerings or what the normal meal would have been. And almost always the students prefer the healthier choice.”
Expanding the menu has broadened students’ awareness of healthy options. Now, for example, when they are offered a snack instead of candy or chips many now ask for an apple on an orange.
“A lot of our kids may not have those options at home. Fruit is more expensive than chips and some of our parents don’t have the money to spend on that,” Watford said. “Seeing that we are a healthy campus and that students have access to good food excites parents.”
Watford brings tremendous experience and enthusiasm to her first principal position. She has been with Camelot since 2011, beginning as classroom support and music teacher before completing her master’s degree and earning her administrative leadership license to become a principal. She feels her climb up the ladder is making her a better principal.
“I can say to my staff, ‘I know what it’s like to be in your shoes,’ Watford said. “Having worked in the classroom has given me the background to make the decisions I make as a principal. I’m glad I was able to work from the bottom up.”