Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our vision of what we aspire to be...

Regarding the school district spending community tax dollars over the next 20-30 years on the pool…

As a community, what is our vision of who we aspire to be?  What kind of community do we want to build for our children and grandchildren?  What is the level of “quality of life” that we expect for our children and for our adults in the Clio area? 

There are a lot of answers, but in education, it is common for educators and elected school board members to agree that we would like to see “well-rounded” graduates from our schools.  So that our kids are “well rounded,” it is common for school boards to spend money on band, art, music, sports and other activities even though it may impact only 5 or 10% of the total number of graduates.  

In addition to “well rounded,”  it is common for educators and board members to expect ALL KIDS to be smart, healthy, and people of good character; so we spend money on academics using Title I and Special Ed to make sure all kids get help in academics.  2) We want all kids to be healthy, so we have PE for every child. 3) We want all kids to be of good character, so we have character counts.  

Let’s look at how successful the schools are in meeting  goals set out for ALL KIDS:  Academics:  our test scores are above average and we spend a lot of time, effort and extra money on it.  Character: we have a Character Counts curriculum and we spend time on anti-social behaviors, and we think our kids are good kids. 

But health and PE?   1) We have no PE curriculum.  2) We have less and less time for PE and health classes.  3) We don’t even examine our numbers – our progress - over time.  Although our PE teachers are required to report annually, the schools don’t do trend lines and analysis on PE numbers.

The Healthy Community Initiative has looked at the five year trend between 2002 and 2007, using school district numbers,  and what is the percentage of students who can pass three of four PE tests?  All kids?  100% 90%? 80?  Your teachers reported in 2007:  2nd grade = 50%;  3rd grade=58%;  4th grade=63%;  5th grade=30%;  6th grade=32%; 7th grade=26%; 8th grade32%; and 9th grade 27% could pass three of four PE tests. And these numbers in  2007 are worse than in 2002 – so we see a downward trend in every grade between 2nd and 9th grade.

But, let’s say that the young people are keeping healthy at home with good food and healthy home environment.  In the 48420 zip code, that is not happening at home. In 2007, the 48420 zip code had a higher percentage of people overweight (42.9%) than the county average (35.4%).  We had greater percentage with high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and cancer than the rest of the county in 2007.

In 2009, our zip had two percentage points lower than the county average of people with access to fruit and vegetables.  We averaged 2.42 days lost to mental health epidsodes than the county average of 2 days.  When our males sit down for a beer, the mean number is 4.31 drinks v. the county average of 2.94 drinks per occasion.  Our zip code has more unprotected sex than in other parts of the county. And while the County enjoys 91.1 % with some kind of health care, our zip enjoys only 84.4% and in during the ages of 18-24, only 44% of residents in 48420 have any kind of health insurance. 

2011?  In the last four months, we are gathering evidence at the new Clio/Hamilton Health Clinic that 2011-12 percentages may be worse than in 2009.

In conclusion, everyone agrees that good health is important for every child and for every adult – maybe even more important than scoring a touchdown or getting into college or making a million bucks.  And yet, the residents of our community don’t enjoy good health; our children don’t enjoy good health; and the trend is getting worse.  In view of those hard numbers and those apparent trends, how much should a community spend on PE equipment?  How much on nutrition and health classes?  How much should we spend over the next 20-30 years on one of the most healthy activities for all kids –swimming.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How Much Screen Time is Enough?

Fit Can Be Fun! And better than screen time!

A team of community and school volunteers, led by Clio’s Tim Neelands, helped organize a Fitness Day at Clio High School yesterday, Saturday, for all 4th, 5th, and 6th graders as part of the Healthy Community Initiative and the Healthy Kids Learn Best project at Carter Middle School.  Designed to help kids to pass the PE physical fitness tests, the day provided a variety of healthy and fun activities. It was a beach party with beach balls, swimming, and various stations of physical tests for the students.  The day was “intentional fun,” which means that all the fun activities had a specific purpose or intent – and that is to help kids develop and grow healthy!  Good job, Tim and all the volunteers!

We know that some young people are using up most of their waking hours watching – TV, video, or computer screens.  I’m told that some students are in front of a screen for 10 -12 hours a day on a weekend!  Others are in front of a screen for five or six hours a day. 

How many hours do we adults spend in front of a computer or a TV?  My time on the computer is getting out of control!  I pride myself on not playing video games, so I just sit and do emails, look at news clips from D.C., and get caught up watching the “play of the day” on the sports blog. And when I’m done working on the computer, I take a break and watch TV! 

Maybe I should start an “Anti-Screen Campaign” at my house.  Limit my screen time to no more than 2 hours of computer and 2 hours of TV.   Hmmmm.  Is that reasonable?  What is a reasonable amount of screen time for you?  For your child?  Let’s talk.