Last week Thurgood Marshall Academy hosted a kickoff to National Growing Healthy Schools Week. Growing Healthy Schools Week celebrated school gardens and farm to school programs throughout the district. During the week, school staff worked with local non-profits, farms and chefs to coordinate inspiring activities aimed at engaging the broader community, increasing environmental literacy, building program capacity, and connecting students to their food.
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh of ward 3 presented awards to two winners of the Growing Healthy Schools Week essay contest at the event as local chefs duked it out behind the scenes using fresh produce grown in the Great Garden of Anacostia. Applicants to the essay contest came from schools all over the district and wrote about their experiences with gardening in their schools and how it has impacted their lifestyle in a healthier way.
This event and others like it in the district are great examples of the many efforts DC residents are making to provide kids an environment for vibrant health living and academic success. The new requirements from the 2011 Healthy Schools Act which was passed in DC last year will have significant long term, positive impacts on the health of DC students and families.
This year, as we work towards a shared use of school campuses as public grounds for recreation, we need to keep in mind that this could have a significant impact on the health of our kids in the district. With twice the national average of obesity among DC children, our ability to maximize enhancements to the system will be lifesaving, and yield a huge financial savings in future healthcare costs.