Body Confidence Club is working with the school nurse and state health department to change the height and weight screening for sophomores into a less stressful and uncomfortable process.
Each year, the school nurse measures the height and weight of sophomores to fulfill the state-mandated screening for public schools throughout Massachusetts. The procedure is done both in and during the homeroom block, according to school nurse Maureen Pursley.
“It is uncomfortable for many people to have their height and weight checked in front of all of their peers even though the checks are in a ‘private’ setting,” said senior Clare Donohoe, a Body Confidence Club Officer. “This causes anxiety, when you feel that your classmates are judging you in the process.”
Although students may choose to skip this test, the process can be long and uncomfortable for others, according to Donohoe. “The setting of the check makes the screening uncomfortable for students: while screenings such as the scoliosis one are done in the nurse’s office, this screening is done in a homeroom.”
The club members visited all of the sophomore homerooms a few weeks ago to explain their hopes to change this screening for them and how they can work together to do so.
Eliminating the screening completely is not an option for the school because the screening is state mandated. Rather, the club is working towards changing the screening into an opt-in process, rather than an opt-out one. The opt-in process allows students to volunteer to participate, unlike the opt-out process, in which all students automatically participate, unless they take action against it.
The Body Confidence Club has contacted Newton’s Health Commissioner and Director of School Services to try and gather more information about the screening, according to Donohoe.
“We believe that the intentions of the state are good and honest, what we are wondering is if the screening is really necessary or if it’s just repetitive,” said Pursley. “About 90 percent of the students at North already visit their personal doctors annually for a height and weight check.”
Pursley also said that students’ personal doctors are able to more effectively use the data that they receive to analyze the growth of a high school student, whereas the school screenings do not have enough data to do so.
“We want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable, especially about their bodies,” said physical education teacher Courtney Albert, the Body Confidence club adviser.