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School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Aug. 18, 2014

August 22, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • An Epidemiological Study of Children Exposure to Violence in the Fragile Families Study
    A large body of research shows that children raised in low-income families are exposed to more violence than children raised in high-income families, including neighborhood violence, domestic violence and parental violence, also referred to as ‘harsh parenting.’ Violence, in turn, is known to be associated with children’s mental health and human capital development.  This report summarizes what we have learned from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study about the prevalence, predictors and consequences of children’s exposure to 1) neighborhood violence, 2) intimate partner violence, and 3) harsh parenting.
  • More Parents Reported Cases of Disabilities in Children In Past Decade
    EdWeek On Special Ed Blog:
    An increasing number of parents—particularly higher-income parents—reported between 2001 and 2011 that their child had a disability, a new study finds. The biggest increase came from households with incomes that were more than 400 percent above the federal poverty level, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.
  • SNAP Benefits Now Used to Purchase Local Food Directly from Farmers in More than 5,000 Locations
    New U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers through more than 5,000 farmers markets, roadside markets and pick-your-own operations across America. The number of locations where SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food directly from farmers has increased five times since 2008.  
  • High Schools Letting Students Sleep In to Improve Grades and Health
    EdWeek Time and Learning blog:
    You snooze, you lose, may be the wrong mantra for high school students. With the new school year upon us, more districts are responding to a growing body of research by giving teens more time to sleep at home so they won’t sleep in class.
  • How To End Bullying: Participants Talk Action at National Summit
    EdWeek Rules for Engagement blog:
    In the four years since the first Bullying Prevention Summit, there’s been an increased awareness in the country about the serious consequences related to bullying. At the fourth annual antibullying summit hosted at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters, participants discussed how to move from awareness to action. The daylong event was livestreamed, with multiple panel discussions, breakout sessions, and youth-led focus groups. Panelists included researchers, experts, and officials from several federal agencies.
  • Study reveals high food allergy risks among inner-city kids
    MedNews Today:
    According to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, MD, children who live in inner-city areas are more susceptible to food allergies. Results of the study are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Aug. 11, 2104

August 15, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • At lunch, home-packed may not mean healthy
    Boston Globe:
    The nutritional shortcomings of school lunches have been a matter of national debate for decades — but the focus has been on what schools serve, not on what moms and dads pack in the lunch bags. Now Tufts University researchers have looked inside all those bags — and discovered that none of the lunches met all five National School Lunch Program standards, which emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low- or nonfat dairy, and only 27 percent of the lunches met at least three of the goals.

  • Obesity, Bullying, Drug Abuse Top Child Health Concerns in National Survey
    EdWeek Rules for Engagement blog:
    Obesity, bullying, and drug abuse were ranked the top three child national health concerns in a nationwide survey released this week. When asked about their own communities, though, adult respondents gave slightly different answers. They ranked obesity, smoking, and tobacco use, and drug abuse as their top three concerns, according to the survey, which was conducted on behalf of the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

  • School Meal Programs Extend Their Reach
    School nutrition programs are among the most widely supported food assistance programs, in part because of the wealth of research linking hunger with academic success. Nearly 31 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program in 2013-14,according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of those, 14.2 million received free meals and 2.9 million received them at a reduced price. More than 13 million children ate school breakfasts, 84.8 percent of them for free or at a reduced price.

  • Cultivation of Curiosity in Children Linked to Later Aptitude in Science
    EdWeek Rules for Engagement blog:
    All children have some level of innate curiosity that drives them to explore the way things work. But parents can cultivate that curiosity by exposing their children to new ideas and encouraging them to ask questions. And doing so could lead to effects that unfold for years, Adele E. Gottfried, a professor of educational psychology at California State University Northridge, said at the American Psychological Association Convention.

Year in review: City Connects by the numbers, 2013-14

August 12, 2014

As we prepare for the opening of school, we would like to take a moment and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. In 2013-14, we are proud to have partnered with 56 schools in 6 districts across 3 states, where City Connects staff linked 17,500 students to 105,000 services and enrichment opportunities. We are looking forward to another wonderful year in our Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York sites in 2014-15!

2013-14 City Connects by the numbers


City Connects is an evidence-based system of student support that makes available to all students a wide array of enrichment, early intervention, and intensive intervention services. In each school, a full-time student support professional (a licensed social worker/school counselor) called a School Site Coordinator:

  • Works with teachers and others to assess strengths and needs of every student in key areas of development (academics, social/emotional, health, and family);
  • Identifies a unique support plan for each student and connects the student to a tailored set of support services and enrichment opportunities;
  • Develops and maintains partnerships with community agencies;
  • Tracks the support plan electronically for each student; and
  • Follows up to assure service delivery and effectiveness.

Each student receives a unique set of services. They may be prevention and enrichment services, including before- and after-school programs, sports, summer programs, and health and wellness classes; early intervention services such as adult mentoring, academic support, social skills interventions, family assistance, and tutoring; or more intensive services or crisis interventions such as mental health counseling, health services, screening or diagnostic testing, violence intervention, or family counseling.

For example, an elementary school student who has struggled with obesity, has challenges with reading, and loves music may be connected to a healthy cooking club, an after-school program with a focus on literacy tutoring, and a summer music program.

Evaluation shows that City Connects’ comprehensive, customized student support has immediate and long-term benefits to students–for more information on the impact of City Connects, check out our evaluation report, The Impact of City Connects: Progress Report 2014.



School health & wellness news roundup: Week of Aug. 4, 2014

August 8, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • How Can Teachers Build on Gifted, Hyperactive Students’ Strengths?
    EdWeek Inside School Research blog:
    At a symposium on gifted students with disabilities at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, researchers from a special issue of Gifted Child Quarterly argue that “twice exceptional” students need better screening and supports for both their strengths and their weaknesses
  • Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build A Better Brain
    : When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground. “The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed,” he says.
  • Fitness May Help Ward Off Depression in Girls
    HealthDay News: Although the effect of fitness on depression was small, improvements in fitness may be part of an overall strategy for reducing the risk of depression in middle-schoolers, according to Camilo Ruggero, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Texas.
  • Children With Jailed Family Members More Likely to Have Poor Health Later
    HealthDay News
    : Adults whose childhood included having a family member in prison are about 15 percent more likely to have poor physical and mental health than those who didn’t, a new study showed. The findings suggest that the high rate of imprisonment in the United States may be contributing to long-term health problems in some families, the researchers noted.
  • A Healthy Child Is a Better Student
    EdWeek commentary:
    Dr. Irwin Redlener writes, it is unacceptable to me that we allow millions of children across America to struggle with health conditions that undermine their potential to succeed in school. Kids are sleeping at their desks after being up all night wheezing with untreated asthma. They are failing tests because they don’t have the glasses they need to read a lesson on the blackboard. They are being held back a grade because they can’t hear the teacher. They are acting out because they are traumatized by extreme stress in their home. These are the health burdens of poverty that weigh on children in classrooms every day. If education is their ticket to a better future and the key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty, then we need to ensure that these children are healthy and ready to learn.
  • When Kids Start Playing To Win
    It’s a playful word that’s developed something of a bad reputation: “competition.” The fear among some parents is that, once children start playing to win, at around 5 years old, losing isn’t just hard. It’s devastating. This rush to compete is perfectly natural, says Tovah Klein, author of How Toddlers Thrive. It kicks in around 4 or 5 years old, when kids get really good at one thing: categorizing.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • New Research on the Efficacy of Providing School Breakfast
    Conor Williams writes, Most of us take it as a given that breakfast is a critical foundation for young students’ success at school. It’s distracting to be hungry, and distracted students aren’t likely to learn as much as focused ones, right? This reasoning has led policymakers to seek ways to provide students with breakfast. Yet a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, “Expanding the School Breakfast Program: Impacts on Children’s Consumption, Nutrition, and Health,” digs into that line of thinking and finds that the relationship between breakfast and student success isn’t quite that simple.
  • Are the Children Well? A Model and Recommendations for Promoting the Mental Wellness of the Nation’s Young People
    In recent years, experts have urged changes to help end longstanding disparities between physical and mental health care, and to foster wellness. This report builds on that prior work. Child Trends argues that the distinction between physical and mental health is both artificial and harmful, and make a case for re-balancing attention to include wellness in addition to illness.
  • Less Flexibility Seen in Brain Wiring of Kids With Autism: Study
    HealthDay News:
    When most children take on a task, various brain connections fire up. But scans showed less of this neuro-boosting activity in kids with autism, according to a small new study. Moreover, children with more severe symptoms of autism displayed even less of this “brain flexibility,” the researchers found.
  • Kids’ packed lunches often fall short of dietary guidelines
    Reuters Health:
    Packed lunches that children bring from home are often missing the vegetables, milk and other healthy items recommended by dietary guidelines, says a new study.
  • The Kids Who Beat Autism
    : Autism is considered a lifelong developmental disorder, but its diagnosis is based on a constellation of behavioral symptoms — social difficulties, fixated interests, obsessive or repetitive actions and unusually intense or dulled reactions to sensory stimulation — because no reliable bio-markers exist. Though the symptoms of autism frequently become less severe by adulthood, the consensus has always been that its core symptoms remain. Most doctors have long dismissed as wishful thinking the idea that someone can recover from autism. In the last 18 months, however, two research groups have released rigorous, systematic studies, providing the best evidence yet that in fact a small but reliable subset of children really do overcome autism.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 21, 2014

July 25, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • Mass. tops US in study of children’s well-being
    Boston Globe:
    Young people have a better chance to thrive in Massachusetts than in any other state, according to a national analysis of children’s overall well-being. Nearly all children in the state, 99 percent, have health insurance. Reading and math proficiency rates exceed the national average. About 1 in 7 children live in poverty, compared with about 1 in 5 nationwide, according to the 25th annual Annie E. Casey Foundation “Kids Count” report, released Tuesday.
  • Is Your School Looking Out for Students After Trauma? How Long After?
    EdWeek Inside School Research blog:
    A new PLOS-Medicine study finds children and teenagers whose mom or dad died were 50 percent more likely to die themselves by early adulthood. Why does this matter to schools? The researchers focused on wealthier countries where the orphaned children were less likely to be left without medical care or resources themselves if their parent died, but there were still “social-behavioral consequences of parental death, such as the loss of a care giver, misbehaviors, and functioning impairment [which] can increase the risk of death from injuries or other external causes.”
  • Bullying the Focus of National Initiative Launched by More Than 170 Mayors
    EdWeek Rules for Engagement blog:
    Mayors of more than 170 cities have joined an anti-bullying initiative that aims to “develop a series of evidence-based responses to combat the epidemic of bullying in school districts nationwide,” the U.S. Conference of Mayors said. The Mayors’ Campaign to End Bullying is a partnership of the national mayors’ organization and The BULLY Project, an advocacy organization inspired by the film BULLY.
  • Are Healthier School Lunches Winning Over Students?
    While many students weren’t keen on more nutritious school lunches when their districts first began complying with new federal meal standards in the 2012-13 school year, they eventually warmed up to the healthier fare, complaining less and eating as much as they did before the rules went into place, according to two national surveys of school administrators released Monday.
  • Rates of abdominal obesity leveling off among kids
    Reuters Health:
    After rising steadily for more than 10 years, the proportion of U.S. kids defined as obese due to a large waist circumference held steady between 2003 and 2012, according to a new analysis of national data.

School health & wellness news roundup: Week of July 14, 2014

July 18, 2014

From this week’s news:

  • Most Kids Eat Fruit, Veggies Daily: CDC
    HealthDay News:
    More than three-quarters of U.S. children eat fruit on any given day, and nearly 92 percent dig into vegetables in a 24-hour period, a new U.S. health survey reveals. But consumption of fruits and vegetables declines as kids move from preschool to high school, according to the survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • New York City Reports a Decrease in Severely Obese Children
    The Health Department announced that severe obesity among New York City public school students in grades K–8 decreased 9.5%, from 6.3% in the 2006–07 school year to 5.7% in the 2010–11 school year. Among public school students in grades K–8, obesity also decreased during this period by 5.5% (from 21.9% to 20.7%), suggesting that the public response to the obesity epidemic is affecting all levels of childhood obesity. These findings were released in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.
  • E-Cigarettes and Federal Regulation
    E-cigarettes are currently unregulated at the federal level. But in April 2014 the FDA moved to change that, issuing a proposed rule that would give the agency the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, banning their sale to people under 18 and prohibiting free samples, among other constraints. The FDA will accept comments on the proposed rule until August 8, 2014, and could well extend that time. Then it is likely to spend many more months crafting its final rule.
  •  Want More Stress In Your Life? Try Parenting A Teenager
    NPR recently conducted a poll with our partners at the RWJF and the Harvard School of Public Health looking at the extent of stress in America. We found that about one-third (34 percent) of those who live with one or more teenagers said they’d had a great deal of stress in the past month.
  •  Health Beyond Health Care: Expanding Physical Activity Opportunities in Every Neighborhood
    More than half of youths in the United States have access to parks or playground areas; recreation centers; boys’ and girls’ clubs; and walking paths or sidewalks in their neighborhoods, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2014.
  •  Poor Teens’ Health May Benefit From Top Schools
    Disadvantaged teens may get more than an academic boost by attending top-notch high schools — their health may also benefit, a study suggests.
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