Forming the Future: Promoting physical wellness at St. Raphael School, Medford

MEDFORD -- St. Raphael School in Medford not only puts a focus on its students' spiritual health, but on their physical health and wellness, as well.

Recently, the pre-k through 8th grade school participated in the Boston Bruins' free BFit School Assembly Program, which saw representatives from the Bruins organization visit the school for a high-energy rally that educated students on easy ways to exercise at home and eat healthier foods.

Held Dec. 1, the rally was meant "to encourage students to get up and move and to promote healthier lifestyles," said Kaitlyn Feeney, alumni liaison for St. Raphael School.

During the rally, John Whitesides, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Bruins, demonstrated the "proper way to work out," showing staff and students how to correctly perform planks, burpees, and other at-home exercises. Teacher and student volunteers help demonstrate the exercises with him, said Feeney.

Representatives from the Medford Fire Department were also present. They spoke about bullying, Feeney said, and ways to be better friends and "upstands" rather than "bystanders."

Blades, the Bruins mascot, participated with a shootout with teachers and students, and Julia Wardwell, a youth hockey coordinator with the Bruins, offered tips on how to maintain a healthier, more nutritious diet.

Feeney said the message about wellness promoted at the rally "is something they try to promote throughout the school."

"Everyone in the school can participate in the basketball program, the school has a cross country team, and the gym teacher always is trying to get the kids to move and do different activities," she noted.

Health and wellness "is something a lot of teachers in the school are promoting in their classrooms as well."

As part of the BFit School Assembly program, the Bruins organization donated a complete set of hockey sticks and nets for the students to use during gym classes.