Home > News

Elida Gonzalez ensures students are well-versed in well-being at W.J. Turner

Posted Aug. 23, 2019

children cross a street
W.J. Turner Elementary introduced a Walking School Bus, exposing a need for additional sidewalks and safety improvements to the area.

Elida Gonzalez knew all about the benefits of a Blue Zones lifestyle long before the Blue Zones Project team entered her school.

Gonzalez, principal at W.J. Turner Elementary on Fort Worth’s historic Northside, had read Dan Buettner’s book, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer,” when it came out in 2008. She adopted many of its Power 9 principles for longevity to improve her own health, then prompted her mother to join her as a way to counteract diabetes.

When Blue Zones Project came to Fort Worth in 2014, she was more than ready to champion her school’s participation and engage its staff, students and community.

The many actions W.J. Turner took to become a Blue Zones Project Approved school include:

  • Established a learning garden with the help of a $50,000 grant, providing hands-on opportunities to cultivate healthy foods and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Introduced a Walking School Bus, sparking high interest and an ongoing schedule of up to half a dozen walk-to-school events each year. These events exposed a need for additional sidewalks and safety improvements to the surrounding area, leading to W.J. Turner being named one of eight Fort Worth schools to receive a Safe Routes to School grant.
  • Created a mindfulness room for students that they could use during lunch and participate in breathing techniques and downshifting activities.
  • Instituted GoNoodle in the classroom, giving students short “brain breaks” and exercise four to five times per day.
  • Rethemed the school’s annual carnival a wellness carnival, complete with healthy snacks and Blue Zones Project activities.
  • Introduced Purpose Workshops for school staff, now part of the annual back-to-school agenda.
  • Hosted a Parent University focused on wellness and positive parenting, as well as cooking demonstrations and Purpose Workshops.

Gonzalez also launched “walk and talk” student walking groups to help decrease stress and reduce behavior issues. This casual time has resulted in a dramatic drop in student behavior referrals.

Furthering the community’s involvement in W.J. Turner’s success, nearby Azle Avenue Baptist Church contributes to some of the wellness programming. Church members support the Walking School Bus, run a Good News Club for interested students, and encourage parents to walk in the afternoon, to support neighborhood safety.

When asked why being a Blue Zone Project Approved school is a good thing, Gonzalez was quick to answer. “Simple,” she said. “I firmly believe healthy children learn better. They behave better too.”

Get articles like this in your inbox. Subscribe to City News.

City News

Calendar

Disciplinary Appeal of Three-Day Suspension of Erica Williams: 9 a.m. Sept. 16, 2019; Bob Bolen Public Safety Complex, Classroom #1134, 505 W Felix Street.
View the agenda »

Trinity Metro Commuter Rail Committee Working Session: 3:30 p.m. Sept. 16, 2019; Fort Worth Central Station, Downtown Fort Worth, 2nd Floor Community Room, 1001 Jones Street.
View the agenda »

Trinity Metro Planning, Operations & Marketing Committee Working Session: 4 p.m. Sept. 16, 2019; Fort Worth Central Station, Downtown Fort Worth, 2nd Floor Community Room.
View the agenda »

Trinity Metro Finance & Audit Committee Working Session: 4:30 p.m. Sept. 16, 2019; Fort Worth Central Station, Downtown Fort Worth, 2nd Floor Community Room.
View the agenda »

Global Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs: 6 p.m. Sept. 16, 2019; Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, 1150 South Freeway.
Register for this event »

Canceled Fort Worth Local Development Corporation Meeting: 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.

Canceled Central City Local Government Corporation: 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, City Hall, 200 Texas.

Canceled Alliance Airport Authority, Inc.: 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.

Canceled Lone Star Local Government Corporation Meeting: 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.

City Council Work Session: 3 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, Second Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

The Right Words Just Work - Message Clarity Workshop: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, 1150 South Freeway.
Register for this event »

City Council Meeting: 7 p.m. Sept. 17, 2019; City Council Chambers, Second Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Commercial Board of Adjustment Work Session: 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Quickbooks Online: 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18, 2019; Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, 1150 South Freeway.
Register for this event »

Canceled Health Fair at Southside Community Center: 9 a.m. Sept. 18, 2019; Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale.

Commercial Board of Adjustment Public Hearing: 9:30 a.m. Sept. 18, 2019; City Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, CIty Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Residential Board of Adjustment Work Session: noon Sept. 18, 2019; City Council Conference Room 290, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Residential Board of Adjustment Public Hearing: 1 p.m. Sept. 18, 2019; City Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Park Vista & Keller Haslet Intersection Improvements Project Meeting: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18, 2019; Villages of Woodland Springs Amenity Cener, 12209 Timberland Blvd.

Breakfast at the BAC featuring Dr. Stacia Alexander: 7:30 a.m. Sept. 19, 2019; Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, 1150 South Freeway.
Register for this event »

Urban Design Commission Public Hearing: 10 a.m. Sept. 19, 2019; City Council Work Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Urban Design Commission Work Session: 10 a.m. Sept. 19, 2019; City Council Work Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
View the agenda »

Fort Worth Housing Solutions Board of Commissioners Regular Meeting: 5 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
View the agenda »

Fort Worth Housing Solutions FW Alliance Public Facility Corporation Meeting: 5 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; FWSH Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
View the agenda »

Northwest Community Center Project Meeting: 6 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; Saginaw High School, 800 North Blue Mound Road.

Fort Worth Housing Solutions Board of Commissioners Public Hearing: 6 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
View the agenda »

Fort Worth Housing Solutions Public Hearing: 6 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; Fort Worth Housing Solutions Administrative Office, 1201 East 13th Street.
View the agenda »

Eastside & Southside Infrastructure Improvements Project Meeting: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; Sycamore Community Center, 2525 East Rosedale St.

WORKSHOP: Lead-Safe Program (Presented in Spanish): 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019; Northside Community Center, 1100 NW 18 St.

Barbershop Talk : 11 a.m. Sept. 20, 2019; Millennium Cuts, 8000 Wichita St No. 112.

Minority and Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee Meeting: 11:30 a.m. Sept. 20, 2019; James E. Guinn Building, 1st Floor, PharmaFab Conference Room #116, 1150 South Freeway.
View the agenda »

View the full city calendar and current meetings.