Health and Learning News and Updates
NIH Initiates Biggest Children's Health Study in United States: Researchers involved in the National Children's Study—the largest health study related to children in the United States to date—will monitor more than 100,000 Americans from the time before they are born until they are age 21 to understand how environmental and cultural conditions affect health and development. The study, led by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, will use interviews, blood samples, and umbilical cords as part of its data-gathering methods.
USDA Proposes New Standards for School Meals: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a new guideline for subsidized school meals that includes a 50 percent reduction of salt in food and more servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk. The USDA guideline is only a proposal, and it could be several years before any changes are required.
Ontario's School Nutrition Standards Get an Upgrade: Get the facts on Ontario's new nutrition standards for schools that will likely take place in September this year. The new standards will divide foods into three categories: not permitted for sale, healthiest, and healthy. Eighty percent of the content in a school meal and beverage must be in the "healthiest" category, and the remaining 20 percent must be categorized as "healthy."
How Do Counselors Affect the School Environment? A study last year found that 20 percent of elementary school students have a mental disorder, but there is a significant shortage of counselors in U.S. schools, education blogger Valerie Strauss writes in this post. Most states do not require schools to have mental-health professionals on staff, but Strauss points to another study that shows students in schools with strong school-counseling programs have higher test scores. Also, teachers in those schools report more peaceful school environments.
Ontario Launches Healthy School Recognition Program: The Ontario Ministry of Education will be accepting applications for its Healthy School Recognition Program. Exemplary public schools that have pledged to take on health-promoting activities will receive a certificate and be publicly recognized on the Ministry's website.
Scholastic, Inc. awards Welch's Harvest Grants to U.S. Schools: The purpose of Welch's Harvest Grants is to help teach the value of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating through school gardens. Hands-on experiences with planting, tending, and growing gardens provide children an engaging learning environment.
Two schools in every state will be selected to receive a customized indoor or outdoor garden package filled with a variety of tools, seeds, educational materials, and more. Eligible schools and organizations include public and private schools, accredited homeschool associations (K–8), public libraries, religious educational centers, and Head Start centers. Deadline: February 11, 2011.
Community-Based Partnerships for Childhood Obesity Prevention and Control: The National Institutes of Health is providing funding to support childhood obesity research through the forming of research teams composed of stakeholders such as researchers, policymakers, community representatives, public health practitioners or officials, and educators. The research teams will conduct relevant research for potential policy efforts in the area of childhood obesity prevention and reduction. Deadline: May 7, 2012.
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.