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District opts out of program for healthier kids
The South-Western City Schools board of education decided the district would not participate in the state program, Healthy Choices for Healthy Children.
At a recent meeting, board members debated how involved the schools should be in the health of its students.
The Ohio Business Roundtable and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association created Senate Bill 210, or the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act. It is designed to put physical activity into the school routine and help students lead healthy lifestyles. The bill would require school districts to implement 30 minutes of physical education each day and perform Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings in grades 3, 5 and 9. Those districts would report the BMI results to the Ohio Department of Health.
Lois Rapp, assistant superintendent of curriculum, said the state would implement a pilot program in the 2011/12 school year. Districts may choose to participate.
“I don’t want to be a part of it,” said board member Cathy Johnson.
She said the district is already understaffed in its nursing department. She would rather the money go towards more nurses than BMI testing.
District Superintendent Bill Wise said the mandatory 30 minutes of physical education every day would be too costly. He also said the collection and tracking of BMI results would be an additional cost.
Wise suggested the district gather information on healthy choices then send a letter to parents encouraging a healthier lifestyle for students.
Board member Jo Ellen Myers said she does not think the schools should get involved. She said many parents she has talked to say they would like the school to “stay out of their business.”
“We’re taking rights away from the parents,” said Myers.
Wise said the letter would likely inform parents on how to get involved in a healthier lifestyle and encourage them to talk to their regular physician about their child’s health.
According to the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, one in three children in the state are overweight by the age 8. Children, considered obese by 10, have an 80 percent chance of being obese as an adult. The study also found Ohio ranks fourth highest in the nation in overweight high school students.
Rapp said obese or overweight students are more likely to be targets for bullying.
For additional information on the program, go to www.healthychoiceshealthychildren.org.
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