Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Weight Challenged: Targeted Intervention

I was a weight challenged child and still struggle with similar issues as an adult.  The patterns established in childhood are difficult to change in adulthood.  As an educator, I am sensitive to the prejudice and other obstacles weight challenged students face.  It's very difficult to be weight challenged from a physical standpoint, and it's even more difficult from a psychological perspective.

Healthy children are able to learn more.  They have the physical and psychological energy for learning, while weight challenged students are burdened by the prejudice and health issues related to their size.

What can we do for these students?

I suggest that daily physical education programs become a standard for all children, starting with those who are most affected by weight.  Typically children from homes that have adequate financial and care resources are involved in regular, healthy activity such as sports teams, dance, theater and nature clubs. Some children lack the the finances and/or care to support healthy after school activities, and that's where schools should focus their intervention first.

One idea is to implement a morning health class for students who struggle the most with this issue.  Students at the extreme end of the weight scale could participate in a daily healthy activity and nutrition course.  During that time these students could share their thoughts and feelings with counselors, exercise and eat a healthy breakfast.  The course could take place at a local gym or health facility.  Students would be dismissed from a class or two in order to attend this morning activity.

Children who feel good about themselves and enjoy optimal health will learn more.  A program to meet students' needs in this regard could possibly be a program that's integrated with other resources such as local physical fitness centers and health organizations.  As schools move towards responsive, targeted interventions for student success, student health should be included in the discussion.

Does your system currently employ a course like this?  If so, please share your descriptive links and articles.