By Jennifer Kelly
An apple a day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
During the Colorado Legacy Foundation’s fifth annual Legacy Luncheon, nearly 1,000 guests watched the debut of the Foundation’s latest awareness-raising video. The video reinforces the idea that healthier school lunches and more jumping jacks in gym class are not going to solve school health challenges on their own.
To help our kids live healthier, we need to combine that apple and more jumping jacks with safe schools and neighborhoods. That means parents and communities need to work together to address the needs of the whole child.
Kids who are scared of violence on their walk home won’t be able to concentrate in math class. Children who hear their stomachs grumbling all day have a harder time learning to read. Teens who worry about their parents’ state of mind are more likely to struggle on tests.
The consortium of Colorado-based foundations and educators who gathered at the April 17 event are working to promote healthier schools. They also understand that schools and communities need to address the needs of the whole child to improve Colorado’s graduation rates and the state’s ability to produce healthy, successful adults.
According to Emanuel, in 2012, Americans spend $2.8 trillion on health care annually, making our health care spending equal to the total gross domestic of the fifth largest country.
Emanuel laid out recommendations for curbing health costs so that we can reinvest in education:
- Promote awareness, incentivize healthy behavior, and gradually change social norms especially regarding obesity, like we did successfully in the 1970s and ‘80s to reduce smoking
- Invest in early childhood education, because studies show that those who participate in such programs grow to be healthier adults, and raise healthier kids who earn better test scores and better jobs
- Focus on how delivering care to the 10 percent of the population who consume two-thirds of health care spending by providing "concierge care,” ensuring price and quality transparency, and focusing on the patient and their home-life versus what happens in the doctor's office
The good news: People are listening and working hard to do something about the many serious issues addressed at the luncheon.
Jennifer Kelly is a marketing and communications professional focused on early childhood education. In 2010, that focus culminated in her founding Penny Jar Kids, which creates Global Giving Kits to engage children in philanthropy while learning about the cultures they choose to support. She also writes jennswondering, a blog focused on the challenges of parenting.