About Cumberland

Cumberland County College professor champions wellness initiative

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Kathleen FeliceCumberland County College’s Kathleen Tumelty Felice is passionate about teaching.

A professor of education and psychology, her teaching extends beyond the college classroom and into the community where she has developed diverse programs for educators and students, including mindfulness and holistic health for children that address stress management, conflict resolution and wellness.

Felice has joined the nationwide advisory team of WholeHealthED, an initiative which brings together practitioners in education, health care, wellness and nutrition to create a holistic, sustained and comprehensive curriculum and learning model for K-12 education. The mission of the WholeHealthED program is to provide the foundation for healthy awareness that will guide students’ decisions as they grow and mature.

“This program will have a proactive approach which combines academic and experiential learning to facilitate a student’s understanding and valuing of their own health, the factors that influence it, and the tools to maintain it,” Felice said.

The Vineland resident will participate in a national symposium on June 15 in Washington, D.C. where pediatricians, educators, wellness leaders and philanthropists from across the country will come together to share what is already being done, and ways to grow these efforts to create a comprehensive approach in whole health education.

“There is a national need for this program,” said Felice. “A whole health wellness studies program, and its components, have been shown to improve health, fitness, cognition, social skills and academic performance.”

According to Felice, children who are exposed to adverse experiences when they are young suffer longitudinal consequences—including higher rates of substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and significant emotional and health-related issues as adults.

“The reality for kids today is unsettling,” Felice said. “Many children do not know how to handle and mitigate stressors that compound these issues. More than half of today’s children are projected to be obese, which also has been linked to long-term depression. A proactive approach is the only solution, and while great things are being done and should be supported and expanded, a comprehensive initiative is of national concern.

“Proactive prevention is a viable solution. These medical conditions are preventable, and the compounding stress can be manageable if kids are given the knowledge they need to understand and control their own health and well-being. Schools are faced with a great deal of new programming, so anything ‘introduced’ can seem daunting.”

Felice offered good news in that wellness initiatives are already being taught by many teachers in many schools. She added that taking a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle addresses many other health factors that teachers, students, families and communities face every day.

“The lessons are ongoing, as this encompasses everything on which I have worked throughout my professional career, in my doctoral research, and as a parent and community member,” said Felice. “Truly, it highlights the importance of a holistic, wellness-centered approach in making sustainable and transformational change.”

To learn more about the WholeHealthED wellness initiative, visit: www.wholehealthed.org