Five Settings for Success: Schools

Schools allow us to reach children and their families

Kids by chalkboard

Since there is no contemporary treatment that can significantly change the outcome for the majority of people who are already overweight or obese, our program shifts the focus from cure to prevention with a heavy emphasis on reaching families and their young children. Our healthy lifestyle approach aims to teach children to make healthy choices that will follow them throughout their lives.

Schools are essential to our program because they are the one place children can be uniformly taught the kind of information we seek to provide. Schools are also a great opportunity to get parents on the same page, preparing them to extend lessons into their homes to reinforce our healthy lifestyle concept within their own families. Teachers are a trusted source of information and significant role models for children and their parents, making them great partners in a team effort to beat back the obesity epidemic.

For our program, schools are the primary location for an independent third party organization to measure height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI), which is taken before the first parent session and again after the final lesson. Ours is a results-oriented program; this data is useful in tracking our success.

We created age-appropriate “healthy jam” and “healthy rap” sing-alongs for students in elementary and middle schools, a fun way to combine learning with physical activity in class several times a week. Once a month the students share this activity with their parents during five- to ten-minute meetings before class. The students also quiz their parents about some of the information they’ve learned. Leading psychologists suggest this parent/child interaction is an important part of the process of changing a child’s behavior.

For each grade we developed an approach to provide age-appropriate healthy lifestyle information without changing existing curriculum and lesson plans, which means we overcome a major barrier faced by organizations that attempt to rework the entire educational experience. Our year-long, in-class program does not require any specialized training for the teachers or administration, making it even easier to implement.

Additionally, we offer high school students lectures designed to help them make conscious, independent food choices. This includes discussions about proper diet, nutrition label comprehension, ways to boost energy without junk food, the role of advertising in today’s marketplace, and other topics.