Health and Learning News and Updates
Combining Academics and Exercise Improves Children's Test Scores: Children who participated in a 40-minute, five-day-a-week physical education program that also incorporated academic lessons had improved scores in standardized reading tests after the initiative, according to a study presented in the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. "These data indicate that when carefully designed physical education programs are put into place, children's academic achievement does not suffer," study coauthor Kathryn King said. (ASCD SmartBrief, 5/3)
Nutrition Guidelines Are Important for Bag Lunches, Too: Schools are providing more nutritious lunches with lower levels of fat and sodium because of federal regulations, but lunches that children bring from home often don't measure up, says registered dietitian Kate Dorr, who studied the issue in several schools in New York State. She said healthy packed lunches should include sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, fresh fruits and veggies, and milk or 100 percent juice, with an eye toward low levels of fat and saturated fat and high levels of iron, calcium, and fiber. (ASCD SmartBrief, 5/4)
USDA Encourages the Purchase of Local Agricultural Products for Child Nutrition Programs: The full text of the final rule for the Geographic Preference Option for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in Child Nutrition Programs is now available. For answers to common questions on the application of the geographic preference option in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products, please see USDA memorandum SP 18-2011. Contact the Farm to School Team for additional questions or information. (www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth)
Free Book on Reducing Teen Sexual Risk: Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk is a new book by Douglas Kirby that offers a research-based, step-by-step guide to understanding seven sexual-psychosocial factors that affect sexual behavior. Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk helps program planners, policymakers, district administrators, and youth-serving organizations design, adapt, and select curriculum-based programs to effectively address critical factors that affect teens' sexual decision making. (www.etr.org/pub)
Department of Education Releases 2010 Digest of Education Statistics: The U.S. Department of Education has released its Digest of Education Statistics for 2010. The digest compiles statistical information related to American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. Chapter Two particularly focuses on elementary and secondary education, with statistics on student support professionals. (ED's Safe & Supportive Schools News, 5/5)
Register for the Inaugural Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference: Please join ASCD's Healthy School Communities from May 10–13, 2011, for the first-ever Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference. Take part in this free conference to learn more about health and learning. Topics will include
- Aligning health and education in the school setting.
- Improving school lunches and nutrition.
- Physical activity and physical education across the school day.
- Social, emotional, and mental health.
- Staff wellness.
- The Healthy School Communities model.
Join Healthy School Communities staff, mentor and mentee sites, ASCD authors, invited speakers, and guests to find out more about what's working across the United States and Canada and share health and learning stories. Registration is free, so register now! Space is limited for each session. (www.ascd.org/hsc)
Ontario's Healthy School Recognition Program: Ontario schools are invited to participate in and accept the Healthy Schools Challenge. Participating schools will be recognized with a certificate and pennant to display in their school. To participate in the program, a school community first pledges to do a healthy activity and then must actually do it. See what other schools who have successfully participated have done to accept the challenge. (www.edu.gov.on.ca)
Ask Your U.S. Senator to Attend Congressional Briefing on School Climate: A briefing
entitled "Enhancing Conditions for Student Learning and Academic Achievement Through Social Emotional and Character Development," will be held in Washington, D.C., this Thursday, May 12, 2011, at the Senate Dirksen Office Building (Ground Floor, Room 11, 10:00 a.m.–11:15 a.m.).
Contact your U.S. senators' offices and ask them or one of their staff to attend. Whole child partner the National School Climate Center suggests the following steps:
- Inform them you are calling about an upcoming briefing related to an education issue important to the schools nationwide or schools in your community.
- State you would like to speak to the staff in the senator's office who works on education legislation issues about inviting them to the briefing. This is usually the legislative director and education legislative assistant.
- If you are not able to speak to the staff at this time, ask how to e-mail or fax information about the briefing. You do not want to use the U.S. mail, as it takes too long to get to their offices.
- Follow up with an e-mail or fax with the briefing information. In your follow-up, always give a short specific WHY it is important to have national support for social, emotional, and character development in your schools and a thank you. View a sample letter you could use to send as well as a formal invitation. Note: If possible please add a small paragraph to the letter of a specific example of why this is important to your community or local school.
- Follow up with a reminder to attend the briefing on May 9 or 10.
Ask for support of continued funding for the Safe and Supportive Schools grants and the inclusion of language in support of social, emotional and character development in current U.S. Department of Education programs. Contact Linda McKay if you need help in obtaining specific Senate office contact information or have further questions. (www.schoolclimate.org)
Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.