Learn The Facts

Integrated School Wellness

  • In Kansas, nearly one-third of kids between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese. Continued wellness at home is crucial to reversing and preventing dangerous health trends and making sure kids grow up healthy and strong.

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  • Research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. This relationship between schools and parents can help your child to learn and reinforce healthy habits both in and out of school.

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  • Healthy students are better learners. Studies show kids who eat breakfast and participate in regular physical activity are more likely to pay attention in class, comprehend lessons and score higher on tests.

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  • Every year, children spend up to 2,000 hours – nearly a quarter of their lives during this time – at school, where teachers, peers and the environment have an enormous influence on behaviors related to nutrition, wellness and exercise.

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  • Health factors have direct and indirect effects on educational outcomes, including standardized test scores. Schools that address health disparities by encouraging exercise or providing breakfast help reduce learning achievement gaps.

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  • When school leaders commit to fitness and participate in wellness and leadership training, they serve as positive role models for students. Staff members can integrate movement into their lesson plans, encourage recess and offer intramurals.

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  • Our kids spend an average of more than seven hours in front of the TV or computer every day for non-school purposes. It’s up to parents and teachers together to encourage more active and healthy lifestyles.

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  • Did you know school districts are required by law to implement wellness policies? Although these laws call for nutrition, student wellness and physical activity education and programming, most policies lack a substantial call for action.

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  • When parents and school leaders work together, school wellness — that environment in which every child can access good nutrition and regular physical activity — is realistic and achievable.

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Nutrition

  • Children should always have unlimited access to safe drinking water. It not only keeps children healthy, but also helps them perform better in school. Dehydration leads to a reduction in both mental and physical performance. Long-term chronic dehydration may cause health problems and illnesses.

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  • Traditional fundraisers often focus on selling low-nutrition foods and beverages, putting students’ health in jeopardy. Studies have found that every separate food‐related activity that promotes low‐nutrition foods in school is associated with a 10% increase in students’ Body Mass Indexes.

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  • Promoting healthy options during certain meal or snack times while allowing foods high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium at celebrations sends youth conflicting messages. It is important to provide consistent messaging around healthy eating.

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  • Providing breakfast at school is one of the most cost-effective steps schools can take to improve student wellness. Popular programs don’t cost much to implement and schools end up avoiding the high costs associated with remedial coursework and high absenteeism.[1] In fact, it may cost schools up to $1,392 per student in additional instructional spending to offset the effects of obesity.[2]

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  • Kids who eat school breakfast every morning attend, on average, 1.5 more days of school every year and score 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests than those who don’t start the day off with a healthy meal.

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  • Across Kansas, only 44 percent of low-income students participate in the National School Lunch Program.

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  • For many children, it’s up to schools to provide breakfast every morning. A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found approximately 12.6 million U.S. households have difficulty providing enough food to family members; individuals in about 4.6 million of these households experience disrupted eating patterns and reduced provisions.

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  • Millions of youths do not eat breakfast or exercise enough on any given day. When schools provide breakfast each morning and encourage daily exercise, their students are less likely to be absent or late to school and their test scores and behavior generally improve.

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  • Schools that offer nutritious meals and snacks get a financial boost. Studies show that students actually buy and eat healthier foods and beverages when they have the option.

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  • Kids who are hungry have difficulty focusing. Prolonged hunger is associated with learning deficiencies as well as emotional and behavioral issues.

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Physical Activity

  • Despite evidence that being active improves learning, less than five percent of American schools offer a daily physical activity. Nationwide, only half of our elementary schools and a quarter of middle schools require physical education.

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  • Inadequate physical activity contributes to problems that continue as students get older. Nearly two-thirds of high school students aren’t active enough to raise their heart rates for the recommended 60 minutes every day.

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  • Families who exercise together are healthier together. Parents and siblings can make a big difference in keeping kids active – and by doing so they create great opportunities for quality family time.

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  • Even moderate exercise, like walking, increases brain activity. School time spent on physical activity not only improves fitness, but actually boosts performance in the classroom.

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  • Physical education classes and recess aren’t the only times for kids to be active at school. By incorporating exercise into classroom lesson plans, students can learn math, reading and healthy lifestyle habits all at the same time.

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  • Adolescents who participate in school-based extracurricular activities and sports have more positive attitudes, higher grades and more ambitious educational aspirations.

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  • The brain shifts its focus every 90 minutes; even offering five minutes of physical activity during classroom instruction can improve concentration, help students retain more information and improve behavior.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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Parent Engagement in Schools, Center for Disease Control and Prevention; 2014.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. GenYouth Foundation; 2013.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn. Action for Healthy Kids; 2013.

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The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. GenYouth Foundation; 2013.

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The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. GenYouth Foundation; 2013.

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Drink Up! — The Importance of Water for Children, KinderCare Learning Centers; 2014.

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Healthy Fundraisers, Action for Healthy Kids; 2014.

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Healthy Celebrations, Let's Celebrate! Alliance for a Healthier Generation; 2014.

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[1] The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. GenYouth Foundation; 2013.

[2] Kansas School Wellness Policy Model Guidelines. Child Nutrition & Wellness. Kansas State Department of Education; 2014.

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The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn. Action for Healthy Kids; 2013.

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Winning the Fight: Childhood Poverty in Kansas. The Journal. Kansas Leadership Center; 2014.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn. Action for Healthy Kids; 2013.

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Health in Mind: Improving Education through Wellness. Health Schools Campaign. Trust for America’s Health, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; 2012.

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Fedewa, Alicia L.; Ahn, Soyeon, The Effects of Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Children's Achievement and Cognitive Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport; 2011.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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Basch, Charles E., Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap. Columbia University. The Equity Campaign; 2010.

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The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn. Action for Healthy Kids; 2013.

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The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn. Action for Healthy Kids; 2013.

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Participation in school-based extracurricular activities and adolescent adjustment. Journal of Leisure Research; 2005.

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A Guide for Developing Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.US Department of Health and Human Services; 2013.