Kansas children will spend nearly 2,000 hours in the school environment each year. These are children like Dillon, an elementary student in the Wichita school district, who loves any kind of physical activity during the day and participates in after-school sports activities.
Movement and physical activity throughout the school day have been shown to increase concentration and focus, improve classroom attendance and behavior, and boost academic performance.
Kansas was one of the first states in the nation to adopt the “Let’s Move” framework into our schools. Since 2011, more than 250 teachers in the state have been trained on incorporating physical activity into the school day, as well as developing activities for students before and after school.
The efforts being made in Kansas are now being recognized at the national level, as the Kansas Health Consortium – consisting of the Kansas State Department of Education; Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; and the Kansas Health Foundation – was recently notified it will receive a presidential citation for meritorious service at the 2015 SHAPE America National Convention in March.
All Kansans should feel proud at the continued progress we’re making in K-12 schools. As the award letter read, we are “setting the model for the entire rest of the country.”
The Kansas Health Foundation believes that a comprehensive focus on health and wellness in our schools will pay long-term dividends. That’s why we have invested more than $4 million in a number of school-based wellness initiatives centered on making the school buildings and school districts across Kansas healthy environments for our children.
However, more work remains to be done. A healthy future for our children is a realistic goal and a necessity for a thriving state in the decades to come.
We urge everyone to look for ways they can partner with their local schools and make a lasting impact. Join us. Help us ensure children like Dillon become happy, healthy learners, and create a path for them to lead full and healthy lives.
To learn more about how parents and school leaders can get involved, visit www.teamupforkansaskids.com.
Steve Coen is president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation in Wichita.