October 13, 2016
Mesquite  News

Healthy Schools: Program all about helping local students lead healthier lives

Mesquite News: http://starlocalmedia.com/mesquitenews/news/healthy-schools-program-all-...
October 2, 2016
Kenny Green kgreen@starlocalmedia.com

The Healthy Zone School Recognition Program is celebrating its sixth year of empowering and equipping North Texas students to live healthier lives, curbing the critical trend toward childhood obesity.

The MISD elementary schools earning Healthy Zone School recognition are Black, Florence, Gray, Price, Range, Rugel, Shands, Thompson, Tisinger and Tosch. Austin and Cannaday received school in training designation.

The program is a partnership between United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and The Cooper Institute developed to engage students to achieve better health and fitness, the program is expanding to 145 schools this year. Since 2011, the initiative has increased its reach to serve more than 90,000 North Texas students to date.

To celebrate, teachers from the 2016-2017 participating schools heard from Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder and chairman of the Cooper Institute; Dr. Laura DeFina, president and CEO of the Cooper Institute; and Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and United Way Metropolitan Dallas CEO at the Dallas Arboretum Sept. 22. Coaches and educational staff were trained how to best implement the program at their schools, inspiring students to be leaders in improving their own health.

“The Healthy Zone School program is the start of a great success story in overcoming childhood obesity, one of the most pressing health issues of our time,” Sampson said. “Together, we’re creating, sustaining and scaling healthy school environments to grow the next generation of healthier, high-achieving students.”

The Healthy Zone School program supplies schools in need with approximately $7,000 in funding for physical education equipment, health promotions and parent education tools to implement healthy practices on their campuses. The program also recognizes schools for trendsetting work in encouraging health and wellness, both on campus and in the surrounding community. Schools are selected through a competitive application process. The program is open to all public, private, and charter schools in Dallas, Rockwall, Collin, and southern Denton counties and Arlington ISD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently one in three children is considered overweight or obese, a statistic that has nearly tripled in the last decade. Outcomes demonstrate the Healthy Zone School program is working to turn that tide. FitnessGram results show 20 percent of students enrolled improved their body composition (BMI) and 34 percent of students improved their aerobic capacity during their first year.

“The obesity epidemic we have seen in children for the past two decades has fueled unprecedented medical problems, particularly adult onset diabetes,” Cooper said. “The Healthy Zone School program is proactively combating the trend, providing kids with better access to physical activity to help improve academic performance and instill healthy lifelong habits.”