One in every three Idaho children is overweight or obese. This is a serious epidemic, which if not addressed, can lead to more dramatic health concerns like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Childhood obesity demands more from all of us. At Saint Alphonsus Health System, we work hard to ensure the health of our communities by seeking innovative solutions to these types of alarming and preventable conditions.
This is why Saint Alphonsus Health System has teamed up with the High Five Children’s Health Collaborative, a statewide effort powered by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health that’s working to combat childhood obesity. Together, we hope to do more to create healthy lifestyle choices for Idaho children.
A large percentage of grade school children don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. After some searching, we discovered a program called “GoNoodle” – an interactive game designed to get kids up and moving during the school day. With GoNoodle, kids are able to have short bursts of vigorous exercise throughout the day without leaving their classrooms.
Saint Alphonsus and High Five Idaho partnered to bring the GoNoodle program to school districts in southern Idaho with absolutely no cost to the school districts.
As a class, students can choose from activities where they dance, stretch, run, compete in track and field events, and even practice calming exercises. Some games incorporate spelling, vocabulary and math into the physical activities, thus meeting core curriculum guidelines.
Research tells us that this type of activity (also called brain breaks) increases learning by boosting student engagement, behavior, and ultimately, achievement.
We are very proud of the results from right here in the Treasure Valley. In just one month, the Boise School District has logged more than 6,000 minutes of increased activity in classes, ranking third in the nation for GoNoodle use. The students have loved the activities and teachers are engaged and committed to continuing GoNoodle activities. To celebrate, we welcomed Olympic decathlon gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton to Idaho.
Ashton visited three Idaho schools in Boise, Nampa and Meridian and led students in GoNoodle games, much like the ones students know from their classes. But this time, instead of a computer-generated Olympian, they had the real thing standing in front of them. We are all proud of our Olympians, especially those who share their Olympic spirit with our children.
I want to thank the Treasure Valley schools for engaging their students in new healthy activities, and give a special thanks to Ashton Eaton for inspiring our young students in Idaho. Solving Idaho’s childhood obesity epidemic will demand much from all of us. I encourage everyone to learn more about childhood obesity and discover how you can help.