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August 30, 2005

Extension is partner in 'Move More' standards

Photo of Jon Ort
Dr. Jon Ort of Cooperative Extension speaks at the announcement of the 'Move More'standards for physical activity. (Photo by Daniel Kim)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and two partner organizations announced new standards last week to get the state’s K-12 students out of their desks and moving more in schools.

Cooperative Extension, the Division of Public Health and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction announced the new “Move More: North Carolina’s Recommended Standards for Physical Activity in School” on Aug. 26 at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh. These standards follow last year’s standards regarding all foods sold in schools.

“Serving as a partner in this ‘Move More’ initiative for public schools is a natural fit for us,” said Dr. Jon Ort, Cooperative Extension Service director. “We all realize that to truly have a healthy lifestyle, we must ‘eat smarter’ and ‘move more,’ the focus of these two initiatives.”

The physical activity standards relate to teacher qualifications, class size, school time spent in physical activity, equipment and facilities. Based on these criteria, schools can rate their programs from “needs improvement” to “minimum standard” to “superior standard.” The standards also call on school personnel and students’ families to model healthy lifestyles for students.

Ort described how Cooperative Extension’s long history in nutrition education and its commitment to improving the lives of young people made the “Move More” initiative a natural fit. Extension’s involvement in the “Move More” standards includes the expertise of professionals like Dr. Carolyn Dunn, N.C. State nutrition specialist, and Dr. Carol Mitchell, Cooperative Extension in Wake County, who helped develop the standards.

Throughout the state, a number of Extension professionals serve on their local School Health Advisory Councils – or SHACS – to help implement the school food and physical activity standards in their communities, he said.

Ort also described how the Pamlico County schools and Cooperative Extension had partnered to pay the salary of Sherry Howlett, program assistant, who teaches nutrition and activity lessons to the school system’s 1,700 students. School officials report that, as a result of the program, students perform better in school and make healthier choices in the cafeteria.

More than 30 percent North Carolina’s children struggle with overweight or are at-risk for being overweight, according State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin who hosted the “Move More” standards announcement. Increasingly, children are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, a disease normally associated with middle age. The costs of obesity and overweight to North Carolina exceed $2 billion.

Delvin said the “Move More” program is not about rating schools with “A’s and F’s. This is about moving everyone forward.”

Howard Lee, chairman of the State Board of Education, related his personal experience with diabetes and the discipline it requires to exercise and eat well. Visiting schools across the state, he says, he sees a number of students who are overweight.

“Youngsters who put on a lot of weight are toying with getting diabetes, and it is a dangerous and chronic disease,” he said.

That is why the State Board of Education has passed a requirement that students must spend 30 minutes a day in physical activity, Lee said. The rule will go into effect for the 2006-07 school year.

“The password of the day must be ‘activity,’” he said. “Unfortunately, the password seems to be ‘passivity:’ television, computers, video games, cars and fast food.”

More information on the "Move More" standards can be found on the Web at http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/.

--Natalie Hampton

Posted by Natalie at August 30, 2005 03:50 PM