Wellness Program for Arlington Elementary Students Aims to Reduce BMI, Increase Healthy Habits
09/29/2011

ARLINGTON, Texas — For third graders at Speer Elementary School in Arlington, this year’s homework assignments will include something a little extra — healthy eating, exercising, and practicing good habits like being helpful to others and getting enough sleep.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, along with the Cancer Research Foundation, is helping the school kick off a year-long program called “Healthy Heroes Eat Right and Move More” with the goal of improving the health and decreasing the body mass indexes of third grade students. An estimated 19 percent of children 2 to 14 years old in Tarrant County are obese, according to the Tarrant County Public Health Department.

“Helping children make the right choices early on can help prevent unhealthy habits from becoming lifelong problems,” said Denice Taylor, registered dietitian at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “The hope is that kids will get mom, dad, and siblings involved in healthy eating and exercising, too.”

With the support of teachers, students will write daily entries on their minutes of exercise, intake of fruits and vegetables, and progress on different “healthy hero” initiatives — getting enough sleep, stretching your mind, and helping others. Hospital staff will track students’ progress by measuring body mass indexes and reviewing the kids’ daily journal entries. At the end of the school year, the two students who show the most improvement will win bicycles provided by the Cancer Research Foundation.

Research has shown that school health programs can also reduce the prevalence of health risk behaviors among young people and have a positive effect on academic performance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are thrilled the hospital and the Cancer Research Foundation have brought this program to our school to help our students become more healthy, well-rounded individuals,” said Linda DeLeon, principal of Speer Elementary School.

About Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital
Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital is a 417-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Arlington and the surrounding communities since 1958. The hospital’s services include comprehensive cardiac care, women’s services, orthopedics, an advanced imaging center and emergency services. Texas Health Arlington Memorial is an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Arlington.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 24 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, a large physician group, outpatient facilities, and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.