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This week’s healthy schools highlights

Q&A with Jamie Oliver about the ‘Food Revolution’

Like Jamie Oliver or hate him, there are not a lot of celebrity chefs doing what he’s doing right now – going on television to tell Americans that they’re fat and the way schools feed their kids is shameful. Read it in the Chicago Tribune.

CDC: More risky behaviors among gay high school students

One of the first and largest national studies of the behaviors of American high school students finds that those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely than their heterosexual peers to take unhealthy risks. Read more in US News & World Report.

‘Let’s Move’ initiative underway in Indian Country

PHOENIX – Some people in Indian Country are addressing the obesity problem by simply moving. Read more in the Native Times.

Brighton forbids school staff from recommending psychotropic drugs

BRIGHTON – Brighton School District 27J says it has tightened existing policy forbidding teachers and administrators from recommending psychiatric drugs for students after a watchdog group complained. Read more in the Denver Post.

Aurora’s fifth block students learn about gardening

More than 60 students from Boston and Crawford elementary schools took part in an exerciseabout gardening last week at the Beeler Street Community Garden. Read more in Your Hub.

Childhood trauma linked to higher rates of mental health problems and obesity

STANFORD, Calif. — New research has shown that children’s risk for learning and behavior problems and obesity rises in correlation to their level of trauma exposure, says the psychiatrist at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital who oversaw the study. The findings could encourage physicians to consider diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder rather than attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which has similar symptoms to PTSD but very different treatment. Read all about it in the Health News Digest.

Culinary camp moves school cafeterias toward fresh meals

School may be out for kids, but class is in session for food services staff members in Colorado Springs School District 11 participating in a Cook for America Culinary Boot Camp at Coronado High School.

“We’re not just opening bags of lettuce, we’re cooking for people’s most prized possession — their children,” said Denise Wojcik, kitchen manager at Trailblazer Elementary School. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

LiveWell Colorado’s plan to expand Go, Slow, Whoa! gets national honor

A LiveWell Colorado-developed business plan designed to expand the Go, Slow, Whoa program from eight Colorado schools to 258 is one of six finalists in a national competition aimed at helping nonprofits grow programs with potential.

The 2011 Business Plan Competition, sponsored by The Social Impact Exchange, required U.S.-based social sector nonprofits to outline and submit comprehensive business plans for scaling already-in-progress initiatives to serve a larger audience. If chosen as one of two winners, LiveWell Colorado will receive financial and consulting awards to support the Go, Slow, Whoa expansion.

For more information about Go, Slow, Whoa, click here.

Summer food program feeds hungry kids at area schools

DENVER – Hungry kids across the state have a place to turn this summer, thanks to food service programs working out of schools in many districts. 

In Denver, for instance, kids can get a free breakfast and lunch at about 40 school sites. Kids ages one to 18 eat for free five days a week.

“Definitely, there’s a financial benefit,” said mother Susette Balderas. Check out FOX31.

USDA encouraging wider use of summer food program

The United States Department of Agriculture has made it easier for organizations to access funds to feed children in low-income areas during the summer, officials said on Tuesday. Read more at Reuters.

U.S. schools serving healthier lunches, but falling short in P.E.

A new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Bridging the Gap, reveals middle and high schools across the country are making a concerted effort to provide healthier lunch options for their students.

Thanks to the National School Lunch Program, schools are providing more fruits and vegetables and less processed and frozen foods. However, despite the increase in healthier meals, students are still not given adequate time for physical activity during and after school.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • Although virtually all schools offered vegetables and fresh fruits some days or most/every day, the same was also true for pizza.
  • Compared with the previous school year, more students were offered whole grains and fewer were offered french fries as part of the National School Lunch Program.
  • More than one-half of secondary students had access to snacks like candy, chips, cookies and ice cream through the National School Lunch Program.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages were available to 71 percent of middle school and 92 percent of high school students in vending machines, à la carte lines, stores or snack bars on campus.
  • Physical education was required for some part of the school year for 83 percent of middle school and only 35 percent of high school students.
  • Participation in interscholastic and intramural physical activity programs was low, especially among students at less affluent schools and schools that had a majority Black or Latino student body.

One of the more shocking pieces of information revealed in the study identified that schools and districts with students at an increased risk for obesity (based on economic status, race or ethnicity) were less likely to have a wellness policy in place.

Chefs Move to Schools celebrated in Texas

FRESNO, Calif. – Hundreds of chefs and culinary professionals converged on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol this week to mark the first anniversary of Chefs Move to Schools (CMTS).  This celebration also marked the creation of a new grant program for CMTS, administered by The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic arm of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, with initial funding from the California Table Grape Commission. Read more in the PR Newswire.

Manitou, other districts awarded funds for health programs

Manitou Springs School District 14 and five other Colorado school districts on Thursday were awarded funds to advance best practices in health and wellness.

The Colorado Legacy Foundation will give $120,000 over two years to the districts as part of an initiative that also provides guidance, financial resources and technical assistance. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.


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First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.