In Windsor, “Walking School Buses” and “Veggie Palooza” Keep Kids Fit & Healthy
Celebrate Health during National Public Health Week April 7-13

For Immediate Release: April 7, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Students at the State Street School in Windsor will probably tell their children stories about walking to school, mile upon mile, in the winter, spring and fall. They’ll also have to admit, they chose to do it.

They might also tell their kids about “Veggie Palooza,” and how, as sixth graders, they made carrot, date and apple cake and apple sauce — not because they were forced to — but because it was the healthy thing to do.

“It really does take a Vermont village. In Windsor, parents, educators, and the whole community found ways to get kids moving, eat more colors (fruits and vegetables), and turn off the TV,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “They did it creatively, they made it fun, and they did it as a community.”

According to the The Health Status of Vermonters 2008 just published by the Department of Health, Vermonters — like other Americans — are growing more overweight, a trend that holds true for both adults and children. About 5 percent, or 2,800 students in grades 9 through 12 are overweight or obese and 4,100 more are at risk for becoming overweight. Being obese greatly increases the risk for serious chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

“It’s remarkable how motivated the kids can get when they know it’s a healthy decision,” said Donna Ewald, physical education instructor for the State Street School. “The kids know they need more activity and when they can’t walk — which happened when it snowed or rained for five consecutive Wednesdays this winter — they miss it because they want to be out there. They want the exercise.”

The Windsor School District has become a model of the Governor’s Fit & Healthy Kids initiative that was created as a way to motivate students to make healthy lifestyle choices. When the State Street School challenged students to record their miles and walk a distance equal to the entire length of the Long Trail (more than 270 miles) in September 2007, three students accomplished the goal before February break 2008.

Windsor was selected as the winner of the 2007 Fit & Healthy Kids Fall Challenge, and the award will be presented by Gov. Jim Douglas at the Statehouse on May 14. The 2008 Spring Challenge will be held at schools throughout Vermont April 7 – 11 during Public Health Week.

For more information on the Fit & Healthy Kids Spring Challenge, The Health Status of Vermonters or Public Health Week stories and events, go to HealthVermont.gov.

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