Overcoming Obstacles on the Way to Wellness: You Can Do It! « BackPrintEmail Friend
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman joins Norris Elementary students for a run on the school’s walking path as part of a physical activity break.
Dr. John Skretta will present as part of a panel of education leaders at the upcoming Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit, which will convene thought leaders and decision-makers in education, health and wellness, academia, government, philanthropy and business in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 18-19. The panel, Overcoming the Hurdles to Change, will focus on barriers, hurdles and challenges to implementing change once the science is understood with an emphasis on solutions.
Schools are increasingly aware that it is a noble endeavor, and totally consistent with our missions, to work to promote student health as a meaningful part of the educational process. This trend runs contrary to some of the narrow emphasis in school accountability mandates common in many states that focus exclusively on core academic competencies to the neglect of the broader physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of children. However, the trend in promoting student health in schools popularized by the Fuel Up To Play 60 program reflects a strengthening, deepening shift in our society. This dawning social awareness popularized by Fuel Up to Play 60 starts from an understanding that individual health is fundamentally important to quality of life - for youths and adults. And, even more importantly, Fuel Up To Play 60 shows us that schools have an important role in achieving this and can accomplish great things when equipped with the resources to do so.
With a basic message of nutritionally sound diets that include an excellent variety of healthy dairy foods and the CDC-recommended, research-based support for 60 minutes daily of physical activity, Fuel Up To Play 60 offers simple, engaging means of encouraging students to practice sound nutrition and healthy lifestyles. If we want kids to do well in school, we need to stimulate and encourage them to pursue healthy and active lifestyles. In our school district, we embraced Fuel Up To Play 60 to feature a healthy and stunningly colorful array of fresh fruit, veggie, and dairy options for students, calling it the "Food Rainbow" and featuring it on our daily fruit, veggie and protein bar.
The challenges of addressing student health in schools are many, and the obstacles are abundant, from ignorance about the importance of students' health in their academic performance to the resistance to change that is best captured when people use the phrase, "That's the way we've always done it" as a reason for defending practices that need to be changed. Fuel Up To Play 60 and the additional program resources available from Midwest Dairy Council should bolster the confidence and the can-do spirit of school wellness councils everywhere. These are free resources provided to schools and publicly accessible. They have been vetted by industry leaders and top researchers and provide excellent information to promote a positive health culture in schools everywhere. Just check out the facts on flavored milk or see our own Governor Heineman's endorsement of milk as a healthy beverage and Fuel Up To Play 60.
Tolerating some turbulence and resisting unfounded criticism when making positive changes are valuable character traits for school health leaders to possess. In our school district, we have dramatically changed the product offerings in our a la carte line over the last five years and increased students' access to low-fat, nutrient rich dairy foods such as Jisa cheese nuggets and Prairieland Dairy soft-serve mix, two dairy products from local Nebraska producers that can have a great role in a healthy, diverse lunch program.
From a personal perspective, I have learned it is not always easy to lead positive change. But when encountering obstacles to positive change, the first question we must ask is, "What's really in our way?" When it comes right down to it more often than not our own fear of initiating meaningful change is what derails positive changes from getting off the ground. What positive change takes more than anything is simply the courage to get started. Midwest Dairy and the Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative in schools provide ardent supporters of student health with an abundance of assistance in taking those first crucial steps on the way to wellness. I have finished a dozen marathons now and, for me, nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from achieving for me this fitness goal. However, even after five years of averaging nearly 40 miles per week, I still find it difficult at times to will myself out of bed in the early morning to lace up the running shoes, get out there and hit the pavement for another 6 to 8 mile early morning training run. But it is simple persistence and the will to commit that breeds success and puts you on the path to goal attainment.
The bottom line is that whether at school or at home, we all have to overcome obstacles to achieve meaningful life goals. Few goals can be more personally meaningful or transcendentally important as a sincere commitment to personal health, and the health of those around us. Fuel Up To Play 60 offers an excellent program for promoting nutrition and physical activity, and the Midwest Dairy resources provide us with all the research-based findings related to health, nutrition, and dairy consumption that one could possibly need to help your schools find their way to wellness.
Hello from the Husker State! I am Dr. John Skretta, school district superintendent for the Norris District in Firth, Nebraska, just outside of Lincoln. It was in Lincoln that I pursued my college degrees, including obtaining a doctorate in education, and I have been a school administrator for over a decade now.
2012 Nutrition + Physical Activity
Learning Connection Summit
Explore the connections between healthy behaviors and learning among youth. Find GENYOUth on Facebook and Twitter @GENYOUthNow. Look out for Summit updates and highlights Sept. 18-19 with the event hashtag: #FuelUpPlayLearn.