Lompoc Unified School District provides fitness center and yoga classes to staff
Lompoc Unified School District doesn’t just provide physical education to the students. The staff can also get in a workout — without games like dodgeball or tag.
In August 2019, the district began offering free yoga classes to staff and converting a welding shop into a gym at the district’s hub. The gym has been used more than 5,000 times.
The program began when Superintendent Trevor McDonald, a fitness enthusiast himself, applied for grants. He hoped to secure funds to encourage wellness among students and staff.
“We are proud that we have been able to work with our philanthropic partners to provide opportunities for our students and staff to practice self-care and healthy habits,” he said in an emailed statement.
The equipment is a mix of brand new equipment and also a few gently used machines passed down from one of the high schools. Staff requested stationary bikes and a treadmill, so the district added those to the gym.
If anyone is intimidated or doesn’t know where to start, Superintendent McDonald will help them figure out how to use the machines.
“I’ve seen superintendents come and go over the years. I have never seen one who was more supportive of the complete wellness of our staff and students — and ‘complete’ meaning physical, mental and emotional well-being,” said Doug Sorum, director of maintenance and operations.
Sometimes, staff will jump rope on their breaks to get blood pumping before returning to their desks.
“There’s no better way to change what you’re feeling than to come in here and spend 15 minutes,” he said. “And so for folks like Bree (Valla, deputy superintendent), and myself and several others administrators around here who are sometimes working 10- to 12-hour days, taking a little break and coming in here can really, really make the difference.”
They hope students can see the effects on staff.
“The better work environment we can provide for our staff, the more they will enjoy coming to work, the better morale will be and the better their own health will be,” Deputy Superintendent Bree Valla said.
“When you’re happy and working with kids and feeling good at work, the kids can see that, they can feel that, they can hear that. Or I guess, in this case, they can see it through a computer screen,” she said.
Through partnership with Santa Barbara nonprofit Audacious Foundation, Lompoc Unified provides bicycle, swimming and track to students. There are around 60 bicycles and helmets at each elementary school, including tricycles and adult-sized bikes.
The district was even able to lay gopher-proof mesh on elementary school playgrounds and Huyck Stadium.
The area of the fields renovated by the district is enjoyed by the community. Baseball and softball teams flock to that area first when they practice.
The students also enjoy food cooked from scratch. The district secured a grant from the Orfalea Foundation that funded a renovation of the central kitchen and refreshed school gardens.
“So students have an understanding of where their food comes from and healthy eating, and they get to eat fresh food out of the garden,” Ms. Valla said. “For many, it was their first time ever having kale grown in the garden.”
The district is currently serving free breakfast and lunch to every student through Dec. 31. Parents can pick it up at any location and bring it home.
Although the students aren’t riding around on the bikes or participating in swim class during the COVID-19 pandemic, the wellness initiative is still active.
The yoga classes held by Honey Fly Yoga are still twice a week, just held virtually. And staff can use the fitness facilities and are provided sanitizer for the equipment.
They look forward to reopening the fields to the community someday and maybe even playing some dodgeball.