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SDUSD Programs aim to curb obesity and diabetes in students

IMPACT Program teaches take-home activities
Posted at 10:11 AM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 13:11:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Students in the San Diego Unified School District have a handful of programs designed to keep them active and help ward off childhood obesity.

In 2016, the district began it's Healthy Initiative. So far, they've created wellness committees in every school. They also put their IMPACT Program into 20% of the campuses, with plans to expand in the next few years.

"IMPACT stands for Increased Movement in Physical Activity during Class Time," explains SDUSD's Kate McDevitt. It gets the students 30 extra minutes each week outside, learning easy-to-replicate activities that they can take home.

"They still have time with their PE teacher, but now classroom teachers can engage their students in station based physical activity," says McDevitt. She says it helps with their focus throughout the day.

"You can see them light up and really engage in the classroom activities and the earning they’re doing when they have time to move," she says.

In addition to the IMPACT program, many schools have local gardens where kids learn about fresh fruits and vegetables. Cafeterias have replaced traditional, high calorie options with foods that are healthier. And some schools have changed the way they do celebrations.

"We have healthy celebrations," says Ocean Beach Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau. "We still celebrate birthdays and holidays. We still make a big deal out of them. But we don’t hand out the sugary treats."

The need for a more health-based approach to school comes at a time when kids' risk of obesity is increasing. According to the CDC, one in five kids in the US is obese. And one in three kids born since 2000 will develop Type 2 Diabetes over the course of their lives.

Drapeau says schools are on the front lines in the fight.

"We’re at a stage right now where we’re competing with this," Drapeau says, holding his hands as if he's holding a phone and watching tv. "We want the kids to understand there’s some real viable options for them outside staring at a screen."