Experts are learning that there may be a correlation between students' grades and their health.
➺ Better Food Choices
It’s almost impossible to count the number of statewide efforts underway that are designed to improve the quality of food available to Colorado schoolchildren. The Good Food Project, created by Colorado Springs School District 11, encompasses many of them. These efforts include using locally sourced “farm-to-school” fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and beef; offering fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats; providing vegetarian options; reducing the number of items with dyes, antibiotics, hormones, MSG, trans fats, and artificial sweeteners; and implementing a community garden.
➺ Recess Before Lunch
In a traditional lunch program, students go from the classroom to the cafeteria, race through lunch, and then hurry out to play. But this approach has been found to cause several problems: Students eat quickly, they don’t finish their meals, and they bring playground drama back to class with them. Simply by requiring students to go to recess before lunch, school districts in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Commerce City have found that students are more likely to eat a full meal and come back to class ready to focus on their studies.
➺ Increased Physical Activity
Last year, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill requiring each school district to make available an average of 30 minutes each day for physical activity for elementary-age schoolchildren. One concept in Aurora Public Schools brings together physical education, science, math, and reading teachers who work together to integrate physical education with their classes during the day. The initiative not only allows students access to more physical activity each day, but it also teaches them how to chart progress through assessment tools that boost their math and reading skills.
Many organizations are involved in the design and implementation of these health and nutrition efforts, including LiveWell Colorado, the Colorado Legacy Foundation, RMC Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Education, Kaiser Permanente, and school districts statewide. To learn more about boosting student health, visit colegacy.org and cdphe.state.co.us (search for School Age Health Initiatives).