Soccer star Brandi Chastain and former ‘49ers great Bill “Bubba” Paris joined State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today in the launch of “Team California for Healthy Kids,” a statewide effort to promote daily healthy eating and physical activity in schools, childcare programs, and communities.
“Because student health and student learning go hand in hand, we want to empower every child and every family in California to make healthy food and physical activity choices every day,” Torlakson said. “With Team California for Healthy Kids, we’ll help make the healthy choices the easy choices. Our goal is no child left indoors.”
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“We know that healthy children miss fewer days of school, perform better in the classroom, and have a better chance of graduating and going on to college,” said Chastain, whose game-winning penalty kick in 1999 won the Women’s World Cup for the United States. “Helping children get healthy and stay that way is a smart way to brighten California’s future.”
“Just as it takes a team to win a Super Bowl, we need a team effort to help California’s kids get healthy and stay healthy—that’s a team I’m proud to join,” said Paris, whose standout play as an offensive lineman over 17 seasons helped the ‘49ers win three Super Bowls.
The creation of Team California for Healthy Kids comes at a time of growing concern about the health of students. More than one in three California children is obese or overweight. In addition, chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay affect 20 to 30 percent of children and adolescents in California, which leads to more absenteeism and lower school performance.
A teacher and longtime high school cross country coach, Torlakson’s effort seeks to engage celebrity athletes, community leaders, public health advocates as well as parents, teachers, and students. This will take place in schools, early childhood and after school programs, and throughout the community.
The campaign is initially focused on three major goals:
· Increasing physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day, every day, in schools and communities.
· Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks in early childhood and after school programs, and in salad bars in schools.
· Increasing access to drinking water.
Athletes and others involved in the campaign will be visiting schools throughout the state to encourage local efforts to increase physical activity and increase access to water, fresh fruits, and vegetables. The Team’s co-chairs are Paris, ultramarathonman Dean Karnazes, fitness expert Lorrie Sullenberger, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Walton, and UCLA Professor Toni Yancey, MD, MPH.
Schools, after school agencies, and early childhood programs can join Torlakson’s Team by creating their own local campaigns. Organizers have created a set of online resources and tools available to any school or community organization looking to promote student health and fitness. The campaign’s materials are posted on the California Department of Education’s Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/tchk.asp or at the Team California for Healthy Kids site at www.teamcaliforniaforhealthykids.org.
The campaign encourages schools to partner with local produce growers to establish salad bars in school cafeterias, as well as incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables in regular meals and snacks.
The effort also calls for partners to work together to help schools provide access to water in places where students eat and play, installing water stations that allow students to fill cups and reusable bottles.
The campaign also seeks to give children more opportunities to be active during the day, encouraging walk- and bike-to-school programs, and providing short physical activity breaks when school seat time exceeds one hour.