ROSEMONT, Ill., April 29 Students at schools across the country are taking action for their health, proving that small, yet significant improvements when it comes to eating healthy and getting active can be the first steps toward eliminating childhood obesity. More than 60,000 schools across America participated in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, and students throughout the nation logged the healthy choices they were making for themselves and their school over the course of the year as part of an online challenge. In fact, the 6th-8th graders at Huntington, West Virginia's Enslow Middle School made the biggest impact of all the competing schools, finishing first in the national competition.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a school wellness program launched by the National Football League and National Dairy Council (NDC) with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); it empowers students at schools like Enslow Middle School to get healthy and be active by implementing changes. Enslow students held a taste test to add healthy lunch options to their cafeteria and also started a walking club, which helped students incorporate more physical activity into their school day and to track their progress with a walking journal. Huntington is no exception when it comes to soaring rates of obesity among children, as one-third of all American children are overweight or obese.(1) But Enslow students have shown how a program like Fuel Up to Play 60 can help youth take small steps toward developing and maintaining lifelong healthy habits, with the goal of repeating the success seen in Huntington in communities all across America.
Efforts to implement a sweeping overhaul of school food in Huntington have received national attention, but students at Enslow Middle School found success on their own through their involvement with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. By making manageable changes, students helped each other "fuel up" with nutrient-rich foods often missing from their diets - such as low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains - and "play" for 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
"We are excited that the students and staff stepped up to the challenge of living healthier lives and are being recognized nationally for their efforts," says William A. Smith, Superintendent of Cabell County Schools. "What is significant about this award is that it is the result of a grassroots effort coming from our students. The young people at Enslow have adopted healthy changes in their own lives and we want to do everything we can to encourage that."
"It's definitely exciting for Huntington to be making news because our young people are setting the pace for healthy behaviors," said Huntington mayor and lifelong resident Kim Wolfe. "The kids at Enslow proved what's possible if we give this generation the tools and the outlet to make an impact."
As the national winner, Enslow wins a HOPS Sports System and a cafeteria makeover (valued at $40,000), which will help Enslow's students make their improvements permanent. The students will also be featured on FuelUpToPlay60.com and NFLRush.com.
In addition to Enslow as a winning school, a student (to be determined) will be recognized as the individual grand prize winner of the Fuel Up to Play 60 competition. The individual winner will receive a trip to an NFL training camp and will also be recognized on FuelUpToPlay60.com and NFLRush.com. The program also determined the top-scoring school in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and awarded them with a healthy eating and physical activity prize.
"To solve childhood obesity, parents, schools and business leaders must come together and address the fact that while a 'healthy change' may not be the same in every community, we can make a big difference by providing the right tools to make small changes," said Jean Ragalie, Executive Vice President of Dairy Health and Wellness for National Dairy Council. "That's the thinking that drives Fuel Up to Play 60 and the partnership among the NFL, NDC and the USDA."
As a private-public partnership effort, Fuel Up to Play 60 shares the ambitious yet attainable goals outlined in First Lady Michelle Obama's childhood obesity platform "Let's Move!" which aims to curb child obesity within a generation. In its first year, more than 60,000 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60. Together with the involvement of supporting organizations - including Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association - the Fuel Up to Play 60 program will further its progress by aiming to reach even more schools nationwide in the years ahead.
"Fuel Up to Play 60 inspired our students and let them know that they have a legitimate say in their health. I think these changes can really take hold, in large part because the students were the ones who determined what would work best for our school," said Lisa Riley, Enslow's Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor. "We had too many kids not participating in P.E. class, so our students decided on starting a walking club - not only to get the other students active, but to also help increase their academic performance."
To learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60 or to sign up for the 2010-2011 program visit FuelUpToPlay60.com. Media resources, including related video footage and photos are available at FuelUptoPlay60MediaResources.com.
About Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a youth-led social marketing initiative designed to help prevent childhood obesity and help youth develop life-long healthy eating and daily physical activity habits. As part of the program, student teams work with adult leaders in each school to make kid-appealing, good-tasting, nutrient-rich foods more available. They also create opportunities for daily physical activity, such as walking clubs and after-school sports and dance clubs. Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages kids to get involved and make changes that will help make their schools healthier places. The program reaches youth directly and engages their help in leading and inspiring their friends. The United States Department of Agriculture, NFL and National Dairy Council are partners in the program, and it is further supported by several health and nutrition organizations: Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dietetic Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association. Visit FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.
About National Dairy Council
National Dairy CouncilŪ (NDC) is the nutrition research, education and communications arm of Dairy Management Inc(TM). On behalf of U.S. dairy farmers, NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier society, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. Established in 1915, NDC is dedicated to educating the public on the health benefits of consuming milk and milk products throughout a person's lifespan. For more information, visit NationalDairyCouncil.org.
About NFL PLAY 60
Designed to help tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL's long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations like the National Dairy Council. NFL PLAY 60 is also implemented locally, as part of the NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. For more information, visit NFLRush.com. Đ 2010 NFL Properties LLC. All NFL-related trademarks are trademarks of the National Football League.
(1) Ogden, CL, Carroll, MD. Curtin, LR, et.al. Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008, JAMA. 2010;303(3):242-249
For Related Video Footage and Photos: FuelUptoPlay60MediaResources.com
SOURCE Fuel Up to Play 60