The Oakland Unified School District Gets Healthy Schoolyards



Hispanic and Asian children living in the San Antonio community of East Oakland lacked access to outdoor spaces for recreation. This prompted David Kakishiba of the Oakland-based East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC), to coordinate a Schoolyard initiative with the Oakland Unified School district. The Schoolyard initiative would provide a unique and dynamic environment for school children to learn and engage in physical activity. Parents, students, and teachers participated in a series of three community design workshop meetings, to provide input as to what the schoolyard should look like. Of the two top strategies for creating a healthy schoolyard, Kakishiba recommends working closely with the school district’s facilities department, and developing and following through on a ...

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Should Active Video Games Be Used to Increase Physical Activity?



According to this news article UnitedHealthcare has teamed up with Konami, the producer of DanceDanceRevolution (DDR), to bring a new version of the game, called the DDR Classroom Edition, to schools. Some suggest that minority children, such as Latinos, living in inner-city neighborhoods may benefit the most from this game. According to this news article, researchers from George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C., are finding that active video games may provide a new avenue for kids to participate in physical activity. Already many schools have begun to use interactive video games as part of their curriculum. According to to this news article, researchers from the University of Montreal say that exergaming--playing video games that ...

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School Health Advisory Councils Promote Healthier Lifestyles to Students Attending Pima County Schools



Anyone that impacts school health can be on a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC). Through SHACs parent liaisons, educators, and community partners can work together to plan, evaluate, and implement the healthiest practices for kids at schools. According to this report from the Arizona Department of Health, in 2009, 33 percent of Latino children were either overweight or obese. Thanks to a $15.7 million grant to fight obesity, Pima country started a program to establish over 150 SHACs all across the county. The Arizona Department of Health partnered with the Arizona Department of Education to encourage schools in Arizona to establish SHACs. Watch this video to see how students from Challenger Middle School are benefiting from the coordinated approach to school ...

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School lunches battle childhood obesity in Southern Florida



Schools in southern Florida are implementing more changes to promote healthy eating amongst students. Various schools have started providing a salad bar, changing the vending machine options, and introducing more fruits and vegetables. The USDA's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act standardized calories per meal and what types of foods must be offered. However many schools in southern Florida are trying to go beyond that to create. They were making these changes before the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which has helped the changes become less objectionable. They have gotten rid of deep fryers in many schools, and began eliminating some high fat foods (like hot dogs, corn dogs, and fried foods). Although they are facing obstacles like the student's acceptance and intake of new food, they ...

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Salad Bars Provide New Healthy Options to Young Students



Through a grant from the Let's Move! Salad to Schools program, salad bars are being implemented into schools in Cordova, Alaska. These salad bars have a variety of fruits and vegetables, mostly raw, that the students love choosing from. Foods like raw spinach, cut up cauliflower, slide cucumbers, corn, peaches, orange slices, and many other items are featured in the salad bar, depending on what seasonal produce they can purchase. The students are responding well because they prefer being able to make their own choices on which fruits or vegetables to eat, which results in less food waste for the school and more healthy foods are actually eaten by students. The success of salad bars, like this one, are dependent on the foods being cut up, fresh, and easy for kids to see. This all ensures ...

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Recommendation to Prohibit Physical Activity as Punishment in Texas Schools



School districts in Texas are responsible for encouraging children to be physically active. In doing so, some believe that school wellness policies should not use physical activity as a form of punishment. This September 2011 recommendation developed by the Texas School Health Advisory Council (TSHAC) aims to guide local School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) to include provisions in their school wellness policies to prohibit physical activity as punishment. Click the document, or click here to view the full ...

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Real Food For Kids, Fairfax Co. VA



Parent organization Real Food for Kids (RFFK) aims to improve the nutritional quality of food served at the public schools in Fairfax County, Va. These parents want all students to get healthy, fresh food that will fuel their bodies for physical and educational performance. As stated on their website: “We know, just as you do, that when a child is well-fed with nutritious, real food, he/she is healthier, better behaved and better able to succeed in and out of the classroom.” By doing research and educating themselves, they discovered the volume and breadth of processed foods and foods with artificial dyes and additives being served at their schools, even though these foods were allowed by USDA nutrition guidelines for school lunches. The parent group advocated for a new ...

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A Daily Physical Activity Requirement for Elementary Schools in Colorado



By 2011, Colorado elementary schools were required to provide students with at least 600 minutes of physical activity a month. According to one study, providing daily physical education classes would increase moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) levels by 23 minutes a day. The study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that classroom activity breaks provided an average of 19 minutes of MVPA and that active commuting provided 16 minutes of MVPA. Park renovations provided children with an extra 12 minutes of MVPA. Although, limited data exists on whether school districts are complying with this policy, according to this EdNews Colorado article, schools like Red Hawk elementary school have started making positive changes. Kyle Legleiter, a public policy ...

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North Carolina’s ‘Healthy Active Children’ Policy to Encourage Activity in Public Schools



During 2006-2007, the North Carolina State Board of Education implemented a policy--Healthy Active Children--to improve physical activity standards and reduce the risk of obesity among children. The policy requires that each school district maintain a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) to help plan, implement, and monitor the Healthy Active Children policy. It also recommends that elementary school students  move towards 150 minutes of physical education (PE) and middle school students towards 225 minutes a week of Healthful Living Education, taught by certified health and PE instructors. For recess and physical activity, the policy recommends that recess not be taken away and that exercise not be used as a form of punishment. It also recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of ...

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