According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States. Research shows that childhood obesity puts kids at greater risk for health problems—including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease—and, once a child enters school, can undermine classroom and overall lifetime success. Encouraging new research indicates we are making some progress to reverse this epidemic: a new report on childhood obesity shows obesity among low-income preschoolers has declined slightly in 19 states and territories, and a new report on school health shows there have been improvements in the way we teach nutrition and physical activity in schools. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
We invite you to participate in ASCD's third annual Whole Child Virtual Conference. Entitled "Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture," sessions will offer educators around the globe leadership discussions and strategies to support their work to implement and sustain a whole child approach to education.
During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, administration, and teaching.
Students are more than grade-point averages. Often they are faced with many barriers to effective education. Dealing with the whole child, and not just the academic child, can help facilitate learning. Safe and healthy students learn more. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" about the value of supporting students.
Schools play an important role in improving student health, social outcomes, and overall academic success. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, aside from families, schools have the most direct contact with more than 95 percent of U.S. young people ages 5–17 years, for 6 hours a day, and for up to 13 crucial years of their social, psychological, physical, and intellectual development.
Coordinated school health programs and policies are the most efficient means schools have to closing achievement gaps, reducing risk behaviors, and preventing serious health problems among students. Whole child partner the American School Health Association (ASHA) is offering free school health webinars this fall to engage audiences in the work of ASHA and the school health field. The webinars will run from September through the middle of November and cover current school health topics, ranging from implementing National Sexuality Education Standards to engaging parents in school health promotion. ASHA will be archiving the webinars and offering participants certified health education specialist credits and continuing education unit credits, depending on the topic.
ASCD conducted its second Whole Child Virtual Conference in May. This free conference showcases schools, authors, and research about implementing a whole child approach for a worldwide audience. View and share archived session recordings, presenter handouts, and related resources at www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference.
Gain further insight into ways to better align health and education in school settings through these presentations:
Hot off the presses! We have released a second Canadian edition of the Healthy School Report Card action tool. Developed by ASCD's Healthy School Communities (HSC), the publication was coauthored by prominent experts in the fields of health and education: David K. Lohrmann, Sandra Vamos, and Paul Yeung. But you may be asking yourself: Why did we develop a Canadian edition and why did we move to a second edition?
The Health and Learning News and Updates blog column will become a newsletter on July 11! Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest news, resources, and announcements about school health and well-being.
Soda on the Decline with U.S. Teens: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a study that found fewer U.S. high school students are drinking soda on a daily basis. Water, milk, and fruit juices were reported to be the beverages most often consumed. (www.edweek.org, 6/16)
New USDA Pilot Program Offers Free Meals to All: Districts across Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee are considering taking part in the USDA's new Universal Meal Service pilot program. Schools that already provide free and reduced-price meals to at least 40 percent of their students would be eligible to extend the free meals service to all of their students under the Community Eligibility Option. (www.chicagotribune.com, 6/20)
Nebraska Students See Results from School Wellness Programs: An evaluation of Kearney Public Schools revealed that student obesity decreased by 13 percent after schools implemented various strategies to improve the health of students. Elementary students showed the greatest decline in overweight and obese students. (www.dailyjournal.net, 6/19)
The Bully Project:The Bully Project, a soon-to-be-released documentary film by Lee Hirsch, intends to educate parents, school administrators, and young people about the impact of bullying on vulnerable youth. Watch the trailer for the film, and visit the Bully Project website for information on scheduled screenings, DVD release opportunities, and links to educational material to promote conversations about strategies for bullying prevention. (www.thebullyproject.com)
Funding for PTA Activities That Promote Good Health: The National PTA (a whole child partner) will award up to 10 Healthy Lifestyles grants of up to $1,000 each to a PTA in good standing to promote good nutrition and regular physical activity to help address the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. Visit National PTA's Healthy Lifestyles Program for more information on eligibility and how to apply. Deadline: September 2, 2011. (www.pta.org)
Nominate an Outstanding School Counselor: Whole child partner the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is currently accepting school counselor nominations for its 2012 School Counselor of the Year award. Nominations are due June 30, 2011. (www.schoolcounselor.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.