The New Canaan Public Schools Health Education curriculum is turning to community groups and other curricula to support its teachings of healthy living and wellness, according to Physical Education and Health Coordinator Jay Egan.

"The old view of health as something that includes hygiene and puberty discussions ... is something we have moved away from. ... [Our goal is] overall wellness in young people." Egan said during presentation to the Board of Education Monday night.

Many community organizations also share this goal, Egan said, including the Town of New Canaan's 40 Assets Program, New Canaan CARES and Time for Lyme. In an effort to reinforce topics covered in the classroom -- including personal health and wellness, healthy eating, mental and emotional health, physical activity, injury prevention, sexual health and violence prevention -- the department has partnered with these community groups.

The Health Department is also seeking support from the entire district faculty in reinforcing its wellness messages to students.

Faculty support of the Health Department's curriculum is important, board member Hazel Hobbs said, considering that "the kids all watch who's eating what and who's doing what."

"Health education is really advertising," Egan said. "It's counter-advertising. ... [Faculty members] do have a responsibility to promote a counter-advertising campaign with respect of this constant bombardment [students have] to advertisements of risky behaviors [in the media]."

Parental support is another key aspect of the department's approach.

"I think that this is one of the areas where kids can't be as independent in their studies as they are in other areas and this is something where we as parents have to support this curriculum in the best way that we can," said board member Amy Rochlin. "I think just looking for ways continually to say that as a school district [and] as a community, are we a wellness based group and is that our next step."