Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has announced four additional schools will be participating in the County’s Fit Kids program, a New York State funded program for the promotion of health among students.
“Our Fit Kids program helps create opportunities for children to be more active and make healthier food choices,” said County Executive Steinhaus “We are thrilled to have four new schools join the Fit Kids program and partner with us in our efforts to combat childhood obesity.”
The Fit Kids program was launched in spring of 2006 and is intended to encourage schools to promote healthy lifestyle choices among students. The newest participants in the Fit Kids program are:
- Dover Elementary School, Dover Plains
- North Park Elementary School, Hyde Park
- Tabernacle Christian Academy, Poughkeepsie
- Wingdale Elementary School, Wingdale
“Technical assistance, equipment and supplies up to $2,000 is given to each of the schools to facilitate initiatives that would both improve nutrition and increase physical activity among students through policy and environmental changes,” said Dr. Michael C Caldwell, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health.
All Fit Kids schools have to complete the School Health Index (SHI) developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The SHI is a self-assessment and planning guide that not only enables school staff to identify strengths and weaknesses in the school’s health promotion policies and practices, but also assists schools in plans to ensure a healthier school environment.
Schools already participating in the Fit Kids program include:
- Arthur S. May Elementary
- Hagan Elementary
- Havilland Middle School
- La Grange Elementary
- Oak Grove Elementary
- Ralph R. Smith Elementary
- Regina Coeli School
- Traver Road Primary
- Vail Farm Elementary
- Violet Ave Elementary
- Joseph D’Aquanni West Road Intermediate
Vail Farm Elementary is currently completing its 1st year of participation in Fit Kids by planting their first vegetable garden in raised beds, containers, and on trellises in all 3 of their courtyards. Michael Kessler, Principal says “We are hoping to have foods to harvest in the fall. The response of the children and parents has been very positive.” They have also initiated a marathon walking program during recess where 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students can earn tee shirts and caps when they accumulate enough laps on the walking track to equal 26 and 52 miles.
Kathleen Glynn, RN at Wingdale Elementary is looking forward to initiating Fit Kids at her school. “We would like to make eating adventurous while providing a good foundation for our children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits” she says. This goal will be reinforced with healthy cooking demonstrations for parents, children earning a physical activity toy for bringing in a healthy birthday celebration and launching school wide “Wellness Wednesdays” where staff and students can practice delicious and nutritious eating.
“Childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country. Our children are at risk for many health problems, including diabetes and heart disease,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “In order to achieve positive lifelong health outcomes, we need to encourage healthy habits at a young age, and schools are an essential partner in this promotion.”
Anyone interested in finding out how their school can participate in the Fit Kids program can contact Marilyn Littlefoot, Public Health Education Coordinator at the Dutchess County Department of Health at 845-486-3443.