I love this lady, Yvonne Sanders-Butler, principal of Browns Mill Elementary School in Georgia. When she was hospitalized ten years ago with high blood pressure, she promised God she would “lead a healthier life and educate others.” She’s setting the standard to stop childhood obesity in schools.
She improved her diet and started exercising, losing 60 lbs. But she didn’t stop at revamping her own life. She banned refined sugars and changed school lunches and P.E. classes. Within a year, student disciplinary problems and visits to the school nurse decreased, and math and reading scores went up 15 percent. It takes guts to send away a godmother bearing frosted birthday cupcakes, as Principal Sanders-Butler did! Yvonne, if you ever read this, please comment here on your experience, and write me so I can congratulate you more personally.
Dr. John Maupin, president of Morehouse School of Medicine, is studying Sanders-Butler’s sugar-free school, the first in the U.S. He says, “Studies show that when you take sugar out of the diet, you will reap the benefits of a child who is more attentive.”
I love my children’s school, an academically rigorous charter school founded by and run by parents and professionals who want only the best for kids. They give so much of their lives to making sure our kids have only the best curriculum. Imagine my shock when the PTO instituted a virtually all-junk lunch program, the virtual opposite of Sanders-Butlers’ menu. One day a week, it’s pizza, cookies, and punch. The other day the PTO sponsors the food, it’s a little better, but not much–still fast food.
Apparently, at our world-class school, we care lots about what we put in kids’ minds–but not much about what they put in their bodies. I register my disapproval for the menu, and I’m told two things: one, I’m the only one complaining. And two, if I don’t like it, send my kids’ lunch. (Which misses the point entirely, because we always have and always will happily make our kids’ lunches–what I’m pleading for is that we care about ALL the kids’ health, not just my own kids.)
I show up to protest the proposal for vending machines in the middle school. I show up to beg for a school-wide no-sugar-handed-out-by-teachers policy (birthdays only). This week, my daughter says the substitute who uses candy as a reward and incentive for everything is subbing in her classroom.
I seem to be almost alone in caring about this issue about childhood obesity in schools and the concrete behaviors that lead to it and other health and behavior issues. At least, I’m the only one speaking up about it. I am always SO grateful when another parent takes the time to tell the administration they don’t feel rewarding good behavior with sugar, or making money selling kids junk, are good ideas. I hope you speak up at your child’s school!