ARLINGTON, Texas – Several of the nation's leading organizations in youth health and wellness announced an unprecedented collaboration Tuesday at the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium.
Cowboys executive vice president Charlotte Jones Anderson announced a team effort with the National Football League, GENYOUth, Dairy MAX and their Fuel Up to Play 60 program with the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, created by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and The Cooper Institute.
"This is a momentous occasion for us," Jones said. "I sit back and look at the people on this stage and about what the magnitude of this collaboration actually means. We're talking about something that is so significant – not only here in Arlington but across our country."
Developed by the NFL and the National Dairy Council, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fuel Up to Play 60 is the largest in-school youth health and wellness program in the country. The Healthy Zone School Recognition Program is a rigorous two-fold platform designed to honor schools for their healthy practices and assist schools in their pursuit of such designation.
The Arlington ISD will be the first to capitalize on the synergies between the two programs, dramatically improving student health and wellness over the relationship's three-year timeline.
"This first-ever collaboration that has national groups making a national impact, come together right here in Arlington for a three-year initiative that you will be able to see the results of," Jones said.
Joining Jones and a gathering of students from the Arlington ISD were Jennifer Sampson, President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; Alexis Glick, CEO, GENYOUth Foundation;
Mike Konkle, CEO, Dairy MAX, Inc.; Blaine Nelson, President and CEO, The Cooper Institute;
Dr. Robert Cluck, Mayor of Arlington and Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Superintendent, Arlington ISD.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently one in three children in the United States are considered overweight or obese – a statistic that has nearly tripled in the last decade. For children in school, poor nutrition, inactivity and unhealthy weight not only lead to poor academic achievement, but also create hard costs for schools and society.
With students spending 2,000 hours in school each year, in-school wellness programs can provide them with nutritious food and better access to physical activity to help improve academic performance and instill healthy habits for a lifetime.
"We know that programs like Fuel Up to Play 60, that encourage regular access to better nutrition, coupled with increased opportunities for physical activity, may help develop healthy, higher achieving students," Glick said. "This knowledge should motivate us to do everything in our power to create sustainable change in schools. We can no longer look at physical activity and healthy nutrition as nice to haves, they are essential to the well-being of the future generations. [embedded_ad]
The Arlington ISD, as the project's pilot, is focused on the health and wellness of its students and staff. One goal of the district's Achieve Today. Excel Tomorrow strategic plan is to foster a caring culture of respect, integrity, wellness and citizenship throughout the district, and a key strategy to achieve that goal is to empower students and staff with a wellness program to make healthy lifestyle choices. This partnership will play an important role in achieving that goal.
"An engaged community is essential for the success of our students and the district, and we are excited about the opportunities that this partnership will provide our students," said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, superintendent of the Arlington ISD. "The health of our students correlates to their ability to learn, and Fuel Up to Play 60 and the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program will provide an additional tool to encourage students to lead healthy lifestyles."
Upon the pilot program's implementation in Arlington, the goal is to have created a template applicable to school districts across the nation.
The Arlington ISD is working to register its schools to participate in FUTP60 by the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year. The first round of Arlington's Healthy Zone School Recognition Program selections will be announced at the National Fuel Up to Play 60 Youth Ambassadors Summit to be hosted at AT&T Stadium in July.