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This week’s healthy schools highlights


Can a playground be too safe?

When seesaws and tall slides and other perils were disappearing from New York’s playgrounds, Henry Stern drew a line in the sandbox. As the city’s parks commissioner in the 1990s, he issued an edict concerning the 10-foot-high jungle gym near his childhood home in northern Manhattan. Read more in the New York Times.

Students from Denver school host special farmers market

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s Baker neighborhood held a very special farmers market over the weekend.

Students from the Fairmount K-8 Academy spent Saturday morning selling produce they have been growing in their garden this summer.

The money raised will help keep the gardening program going all year long. Check out this CBS4 report.

Epidemic of obesity in U.S. kids began in late ’90s

The epidemic of excess weight gain and obesity among young Americans began about 15 years ago, a new study finds. Read more in U.S. News & World Report.

Spud spat: New nutrition standards fire up potato lobby

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – There’s a showdown brewing in the lunch room. New federal nutrition guidelines for school meals are running up against a surprisingly vocal force: potato advocates. Politicians, farmers and industry groups from potato-producing states decry the USDA’s recommendation to limit servings of spuds. Learn more at KUOW radio.

Second-hand smoke linked to teen hearing loss

TORONTO – Second-hand smoke exposure has been linked to a host of health-related issues, but new research is pointing to another potential side-effect: hearing loss. Read more at thespec.com.

Back-to-school checklist for students with asthma

WASHINGTON–The start of a new school year is a big transition after the long summer break, especially for families of children with asthma. This back-to-school season, the American Lung Association stresses the importance of preparing and carefully monitoring a detailed action plan to manage asthma and ease the transition to the school environment. Read more at HealthNewsDigest.com.

First Lady and grocers to bring healthy food to “food deserts”

First Lady Michelle Obama announced today that she has recruited major national retail giants to join her campaign to provide fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods to areas of the nation with little access to healthy food. Check out this ABC News blog.

USDA releases first farm-to-school evaluation

Efforts to serve local food in schools are expanding nationwide, but creating a market between small farms and school districts still poses many challenges, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first report on farm-to-school initiatives. Read more at Food Safety News.

Innovating schools, one lunch at a time

Childhood obesity, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breathing problems, some cancers, and poor self-esteem, is a particularly painful epidemic in our country. Cases of childhood obesity have tripled over the last 20 years, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 17 percent of all children in the U.S. are obese. Read more at Inc. magazine.

Cafe no longer just for kids

This summer, Kids Cafe opened its doors for the first time to kids of all ages.

The Food Bank for Larimer County program originally provided free meals to children, with adult meals costing $2. An anonymous donor this summer made it possible to open Kids Cafe to the parents and grandparents of its participants, beginning at the end of June. Read more in the Coloradoan.

Health tip: Keep kids’ lunches cool

Kids need a healthy lunch to take to school or day camp, but parents must also be wary of food safety concerns when packing lunches. Read more at HealthDay News, a feature of U.S. News & World Report.

Binge drinking more harmful to teenage girls

Teenage girls may be more vulnerable to the long term effects of binge drinking than their male counterparts, claims a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Stanford University. Read more about it at redOrbit.

Creating a new association for ‘cafeteria food’

The Montrose County School District is making big changes in its lunchrooms.

Only two years ago, the school district served about 85 percent processed food. Now, that number is less than 10 percent. Learn more at the Montrose Daily Press.

Moffat County school food dept. encourages freshness, efficiency

In her days as a student, Judy Baker recalls the menu of school lunches being very unhealthy, filled with canned vegetables and second-rate meats. Read more in the Craig Daily Press.

TeenScreen proactive on mental health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one-half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14, but most are not diagnosed until 10 years after symptoms appear. Read more at Social Work Today.

About our First Person series:

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