Every Kid Healthy Week

Every Kid Healthy Week

April 25-29, is Every Kid Healthy Week, an observance focusing on raising awareness about the health of children. This recognition was started in 2002 by Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) when the issue of childhood obesity was recognized as an epidemic in the United States. Initial work targeted policymakers and school administrators with promotion of good nutrition and regular physical activity. In 2013, AFHK launched Every Kid Healthy Week as a national observance during the last week of April.

AFHK notes that only 1 in 3 children get physical activity every day, 1 in 7 live with food insecurity, and about 15 million children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral health condition. The agency offers recommendations for school health components and provides parent toolkits and a resource library to promote children’s healthy lifestyles.

There is strong evidence supporting the link between student health and academic achievement. For example, skipping breakfast is associated with reduced cognitive performance including attention, memory, and problem solving. But the problems caused by poor health can be much deeper, and research published in School Psychology International (2015) found critical links between student health and academic performance, noting :

“…poor health impedes participation in daily school activities. Frequent absence, discomfort or pain, movement limitations, sleepiness, physical and psychological side effects of medications among other factors limit students’ abilities to engage in the education process. In addition to the deleterious outcomes related to school functioning, children with medical conditions experience restrictions in developing critical emotional bonds with teachers, (and ) a significant body of research has demonstrated that poor health predicts low educational level, social and economic inequalities, and behavior problems carried into adulthood.”

The study further found evidence that female students are more likely to experience obesity and eating disorders and are less responsive to physical activity interventions than boys.

In 2011, Chrysalis created GirlStrong!, an addition to Chrysalis After-School curriculum that brought in local experts to deliver lessons on healthy weight, fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention. Activities for girls and school facilitators emphasized healthy eating, recommendations for activity and fitness, and an understanding of disease prevention including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Lessons were adapted from a range of sources including First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign, the U.S. Office of Women’s Health’s Best Bones Forever! program, and CATCH! program materials targeting youth’s healthy lifestyles. (All were current, research-based materials.)

Over the years, Chrysalis has partnered with numerous experts including Hy-Vee dietitians, Drake University pharmacy students, Blank Children’s Hospital community health experts, Mercy College public health students, and Soy for Life Foundation staff members to enhance educational activities, provide female professionals as role models, and share education and career information for girls to explore.

We know that healthy girls grow up to become healthy women, and supporting girls’ healthy development has been the focus of Chrysalis since 1989.