Multnomah County celebrates school efforts to prevent youth obesity [video]

September 28, 2011

Multnomah County Commissioners lauded seven school districts, the SUN Service System after-school program and the health department at a summit on Wednesday, Sept. 28 for their efforts to get children moving more and eating better.

Chair Jeff Cogen told seven superintendents and more than 100 principals, parents, students and community partners that one in four children in Multnomah County is overweight or obese. The extra weight increases the risk children will develop heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

The risk of developing chronic diseases make this the first generation of kids expected to have a shorter life span than their parents. “That’s devastating,’’ Cogen said. “That’s why we’re here.”

The county spread a Centers for Disease Control obesity prevention grant across more than 30 sites where children, adults and seniors spend most of their time, including work sites, hospitals and school districts. Each district hired a wellness coordinator, and has worked to increase the fresh food served and amount of student exercise. Among the districts’ accomplishments:

  • Centennial School District renovated its middle school athletic track, raised standards for food served outside of meals and had four elementary schools transform recess to increase activity.
  • David Douglas School District installed new filtered water fountains for more than 5,000 students. West Powellhurst Elementary adopted “Moving Minutes,” a daily movement routine. And the district also created a wellness committee.
  • Gresham-Barlow School District installed covered bike racks at Dexter-McCarty Middle School; Springwater Trail High School created a poster campaign showing favorite exercises and healthy snacks. And three schools adopted a new recess strategy.
  • Parkrose School District is having all its elementary schools celebrate “International Walk and Bike to School Day,” ramping up for a “safe streets” construction projects at each location. The district also increased student access to gardening at a local farm.
  • Portland Public Schools worked to increase local food so that more than 30 percent of the food served is procured from local sources. Students try new foods at “Harvest of the Month” and “Local Lunch” campaigns in 38 school cafeterias. And schools with the most need received a cafeteria water dispenser.
  • Reynolds School District won a $169,000 Oregon Department of Transportation grant to build bike lanes, cross walks and safety improvements at H.B .Lee Middle School. Staff and parents also established gardens at Wilkes Elementary and Reynolds Middle School and installed new drinking fountains.
  • Riverdale School District built a safe walking path at the grade school. Also, a new meal vendor will purchase, prepare and promote fresh local produce in the high school cafeteria.