Building healthy bodies is as important as developing healthy minds.

That’s the premise of a school health program coming to the Fairview Independent School District this fall.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation seeks to stop the increase in childhood obesity by 2010 and turn the trend downward by 2015 by promoting good nutrition and exercise, said Patty Lane, the alliance’s relationship manager for Kentucky.

A collaboration between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, the alliance works with schools to form their own committees to promote good health.

On any given school day, some 53 million in the United States — students, teachers, administrators and staff — spend several hours in school. While there, students consume a third to a half of their total calories for the day, said Lane, a former family resource center coordinator in the Russell district.

That makes school ground zero in the fight against obesity.

Lane is working with the Fairview Family Resource Center’s advisory board to form a wellness committee for the district. The committee will take stock of the district’s health and nutrition practices and identify areas that need improvement.

Then it will make improvement plans and find the resources it needs to carry out the blueprint.

Studies show nutrition is linked to student attendance, behavior and math scores, and physical fitness is related to math performance and stress levels, Lane said.

The program meshes with an ongoing emphasis on fitness in the district, FFRC coordinator Brenda Hale said. Participation in the program also lends credibility on applications for grants to initiate future programs, she said.

Adult fitness is integral to the program because faculty and staff are natural role models for children.

Fairview in the past has promoted staff wellness, usually around the New Year holiday, Hale said. This year the district will start the process earlier to coincide with the new program, she said.

Fairview is one of 10 districts in Kentucky to implement the program. Most are in the southeastern part of the state.

Lane will recruit more districts starting in the spring. Keeping it small means she can provide more individual help to each of the participating districts.

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