New Orleans Kids Flash Mob Press Conference on Childhood Obesity [VIDEO]
Superintendent pledges to reform school food and punishment policies
Fresh off the announcement from First Lady Michelle Obama who got retailers like Wal-Mart to open more grocery stores in poor neighborhoods, New Orleans food justice advocates came up today with recommendations for schools to open more opportunities for healthy heating and exercise.
It's the lack of nutritional food and time for physical activity, said Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools at a press conference held at a New Orleans high school, that causes kids to act up in school and then get punished, if not expelled out of school.
Rethinker Vernard Carter pointed out that Louisiana had the fourth highest obesity rates in the country, as well as pointing out that both childhood obesity and excessive school suspensions "both disproportionately affect black and Latino youth."
According to a fact sheet [pdf] from Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, a study found that for each additional meter of grocery store shelf space in New Orleans offering fresh vegetables, the city's residents eat an additional 0.35 servings per day. The Rethinkers are trying to apply the same logic by getting schools to add additional helpings of vegetables and fruits in their offerings to students.
The group submitted a set of recommendations to the superintendent of Louisiana's Recovery School District, a special district that was set up for failing schools throughout the state, many of which are in New Orleans. The recommendations included forbidding teachers from using candy as rewards, obeying the state law that requires all students to have 30 minutes of exercise a day, and to cut down suspensions by 50%.
To punctuate their point, the kid advocates broke out into a flash mob dance set to Beyonce's "Move Your Body," which is also the theme song of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" childhood obesity campaign.
Superintendent John White was on hand to receive the recommendations and said that pilot programs should be created for adding nutritional food and excercise to the school day. He also pledged to find ways to divert funding that normally would go to suspension and alternative school services and reroute them to programs that prevent students from being taken out of classrooms as punishment to begin with.