Senate Committee hears about childhood obesity in West Virginia - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Senate Committee hears about childhood obesity

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The West Virginia Senate's Select Committee on Children and Poverty discussed childhood obesity Jan. 31.

Gayle Manchin, president of the West Virginia  Board of Education, spoke to the committee to discuss her support for Senate Bill 461.

The bill would allow children to stand up, move around or just walk around a room to incorporate movement in each child's day.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for people in West Virginia to stand up and realize what we need to do to support a healthier lifestyle for our children," Manchin said. "We realize the obesity problems come from children not having the right nutritional food in their diet."

The lack of physical activity also attributes to the obesity problem, Manchin added.

Manchin said sometimes people don't realize when children come into a classroom and sit down at a desk they are sitting for a long time during the course of the day. She said it is difficult to sit still and they might find their minds wondering from a task at hand.

Manchin said the legislation is just another great example of what needs to be done to make sure the state's children are provided wit the best nutrition and physical activity throughout the school day.

"It is a team effort, we owe the children of West Virginia the very best quality of life and education that we can provide them," Manchin said.

Charles Heinlein, Deputy Superintendent of the West Virginia Department of Education, said today's children are much different than in the past especially in ways of being technology literate.

"They come to school and are in a seat for six hours," he said. "This bill, I think, addresses the issue of physical activity and physical movement throughout the school day."

He said the keyword about the bill is "integrated." By giving teachers the ability to be flexible in incorporating the Move to Improve Act, Heinlein said he thinks it will be successful.

Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said being integrated throughout the entire day make a lot of sense to him.

Laura Dice, Assistant Coordinator for KEYS 4 Healthy Kids with the Charleston Area Medical Center Health Systems said changing the environment for a child also attributes to childhood obesity.

She said KEYS 4 Healthy Kids started as a result of a grant and they are working to change the area where kids live in order for everyone to be able to make a healthy choice.

This past year, the program has worked with teachers and principals in certain parts of the state working to increase physical activity in the state, Dice said.

She said Mingo and Wood counties have contributed heavily to implement the Move to Improve Act.

"We definitely support move to improve and have held focus groups on how this can be implemented into the schools," Dice said.

Christine Campbell, President of the American Federations of Teachers said one available resource for teachers is the AFT's share my lesson website, www.sharemylesson.com,

Campbell said the website offers teachers with lesson plans including incorporating physical activity into the classroom.