"According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 Caucasian children born in the year 2000 (this year's 9th graders) and 1 in 2 minority kids born that year are expected to be insulin dependent in their lifetime."
As disappointing as it was to read this recently, it was the sign I needed to get motivated for my National Nutrition Month talk for the Wellness Committee to the PTA at my daughter's school.
Directly before me, a police detective rose to speak about school security threats and safety issues. While I will agree that those topics are of critical importance to parents, I couldn't help but wonder if the statistics really were saying anything about what's happening at our school. According to David Finklehor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, the chances of a student being harmed over the course of a school day is less than one in a million.
After the detective, it was my turn to talk. It felt like, "OK, now we can let the nice lady speak about salad. Same old story. Eat your vegetables, right?!" Maybe it's my own insecurity, but I do not believe parents truly understand what our committee is trying to accomplish. What I really wanted to do was stand up and shout at the top of my lungs: "If you want to talk about threats, let's talk about the one that our children face every single day. Because of the food they're eating, we're slowly allowing them to develop life threating diseases. Why are we allowing this to happen? Most people don't get the connection between diet and disease!"
So, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's talk about the salad. For this year's NNM theme, "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle," we chose to have the children get creative in the kitchen with salad greens, take a picture, write up a recipe and have it posted on the school's main hallway bulletin board. I know salad and greens are not very popular among children — but that is exactly why I chose to do it.
At first I was afraid we'd get no participation. I held my breath, but with a little bit of coaxing, our board started filling up with submissions. Right this minute, parents are home searching recipes and kids are in the kitchen slicing and dicing. We're not just talking salad here, we're talking life-saving skills and life-saving messages. Students have been walking by the board discussing which recipes they're going to try next!
When I saw the first group of pictures come in, my heart almost burst out of my chest. This is what kids need to see. The board is now almost completely full and it looks amazing! We can reverse these awful health statistics. Make healthy food a priority in your school and at home. We must, for our children's sake.