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Help for Healthier Schools

So, yesterday I was on the phone with another mom who was talking about the HealthierUS Schools challenge.  The mom was First Lady Michelle Obama and I say I was “on the phone,” rather than “talking on the phone” because I only listened.  However, even though I was on the conference call as more of a quiet media stalker than a participant, it was still cool to hear her voice in my bluetooth.

Do we want healthier kids?  Yes.  Can we help them?  Mrs. Obama says we can and listening to her and Arne Duncan and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talk about the program, I think she may be right.

The HealthierUS Schools Challenge, a program that started in 2004 and is now a focus of Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative emphasizes three components that together could really make a difference – healthier foods, more physical activity, and improved nutrition education.  Schools who opt to take the challenge will work to show improvement in all three areas in order to be eligible for grant money to help with their work.

Healthier kids are better able to learn and grow academically as well as physically.  Many of us know that we need to eat right and exercise to build healthier bodies but so many children and families need help and information to make these changes.  “We know that to win the future, we have to win the race to educate our children and that means that our kids must have access to nutritious meals and healthy lifestyles,” Secretary Vilsack said.

The nutrition education component is really important to me.  When we teach children about health and nutrition, they can then teach their families and when homes are transformed, that’s when we have a chance at sustainable change.  My second grader Laylee has learned so much this year from her teacher about nutrition and that knowledge is changing the way she eats and exercises at home.  Lessons I have worked to teach her for years are finally sinking in now that they have the TEACHER stamp of approval.

"We’re not going to stop until we know that our schools and our educators have everything they need to give our kids the healthy futures they deserve," the First Lady said.  She pointed those on the call to the online tools available to help with the application process and I think this is a great place for parents to start if they want to encourage their school or district administration to become involved in this program.  This is also the place to apply for grant money to help with training and implementation.

If you’d like a goal to work on with your kids at home, consider working to earn the President’s Active Lifestyle Award, which recognizes kids who exercise for 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six consecutive weeks.  And adults can earn it too.  How fun would it be to work on that together?  Can you do it?  Yes, you can!   

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler, and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.

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