Implementing Fitness and Nutrition Education in Urban, Underserved, Community-Based Montessori Schools: Challenges and Lessons Learned

Online Publication Date:
February 21, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
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**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) volume 16.3. All rights reserved.**

Background: Few studies have discussed school-based health programs in Montessori education. Lumin has a network of Montessori elementary schools serving mainly lower income families in Dallas, Texas. Since 2015, our medical school has partnered with Lumin to design and implement fitness and nutrition curricula adherent to Montessori principles.
Objectives: To describe a novel Montessori school-based health program and determine avenues for improvement based on lessons learned.
Methods: Led by medical students with guidance from faculty mentors, the program was developed collaboratively with Lumin leaders based on a critical need in their community and shaped with results from a cross-sectional health needs assessment among Lumin families. Data were collected to measure the impact of the program and a program evaluation was conducted after five years of operation to explore curriculum refinement.
Results/Lessons Learned:The greatest challenges were recruitment of student volunteers, scheduling and coordination, and garnering community interest for secondary activities (e.g. health fairs).
Conclusions: Despite challenges, this partnership has resulted in a successful program that relies on faculty and student volunteers, incorporates CBPR and service-learning concepts, and follows Montessori principles.