Many students in Kent, Ionia and Montcalm counties face some tough challenges. There are over 60,988 students in these three counties who are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This represents at least one in four children! One in three children living in Michigan are overweight or obese.
Feeding America reports that families are ‘purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthier option, in an effort to provide enough food for their household’ Local surveys have indicated that over three-quarters of our kids only eat 1-2 fruits and vegetables a day. At least 3 vegetables and 2 fruits are the amounts recommended and is also a strong indication of the overall healthiness of the child’s diet.
Research has linked poor early childhood nutrition to mental and physical health issues later in life and has shown to impact academic achievement and future economic prosperity.
Physical activity is also decreasing in all ages of our kids. In fact, nearly one-half of our preschool-aged children do not get the recommended amount of activity needed – a minimum of 60 minutes per day. Youth, ages 6 to 15, are even in worse shape! Only 25% – one-quarter!- of these youth receive 60 minutes or more physical activity every day!
As if the physical challenges are not enough, check out these statistics:
- over 25% of our youth experience some form of bullying,
- 50% reported that they have seen students left out of games or activities on purpose or have been hit or punched,
- 40% have seen students wreck or damage other students’ things,
- and over 75% have heard students get called mean names or ‘put downs’ in the past 12 months.
For some students, these challenges have been so concerning that they have skipped school because they did not feel safe.
This summer Kent ISD will be hosting a workshop, “Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Kids” to provide Pre-K-grade 8 teachers with an opportunity to hear and interact with local experts on these topics. A tool box of resources, developed by community agencies in West MI, that feature monthly teaching ideas, actual lesson plans and hand-outs, and family communication tools. The lead presenter and facilitator is Anne King, former building principal in GRPS and well-known keynote and workshop presenter on bully prevention and wellness. 10 SCHECH credits are available for this August 10 & 11 workshop.
If you would like to register or learn more about this beneficial workshop, click here for Health Classrooms, Healthy Kids workshop information.
This blog post was written by Dr. Cheryl Blair, Comprehensive School Health Education Consultant for Kent ISD and edited by Amanda Walma, Professional Learning Coordinator for Kent ISD.
 Feeding America. (2016). The Impact of Hunger: Child Hunger. Retrieved from http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/child-hunger/?_ga=1.195712172.1619076172.1458306585. Accessed March 16, 2016.