Effort is one of many initiatives designed to lower obesity rates among IPS students
INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly one-third of Indiana’s high-school children are either overweight or obese, according to the 2009 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The CDC also warns that, if current trends continue, the U.S. diabetes rate is expected to triple by 2050. Based on these statistics, there’s a strong possibility the obese schoolchildren of today may grow up to become the type 2 diabetics of tomorrow, putting them at greater risk for severe medical complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and stroke.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables offer a number of health benefits and have been linked to a lower prevalence of obesity and reduced weight gain. Yet, many who live in low-income areas consume far fewer fruits and vegetables than currently recommended. Therefore, in an effort to increase access to nutritious foods in order to reduce the incidence of obesity among youth, Clarian Health is partnering with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) to build a series of 10 school gardens throughout the city.
On Saturday, November 6 from 9 a.m. to noon, more than 100 green-thumbed students and volunteers will get their hands dirty as they come together to break ground on the first garden – a 1,200 square-foot garden plot which will be built on the grounds of Emma Donnan Middle School, located at 1202 Troy Ave. on the city’s near south side. The garden will serve as a valuable health education tool and a fresh food resource for both the students and the residents living in the surrounding area.
The building of the school gardens is a continuation of Clarian’s statewide efforts to combat “diabesity” – a term coined to acknowledge the closely-related epidemics of diabetes and obesity which currently affect one in four Hoosiers.
“We are pleased to partner with IPS on this innovative school garden program which will improve access to fresh, nutritious and affordable foods for Hoosiers living in underserved areas,” said Ron Stiver, Clarian’s senior vice president of Engagement & External Affairs.
The school garden at Emma Donnan Middle School will be the first of 10 such gardens that Clarian, IPS and KIB will build prior to the 2011 summer growing season.
“IPS is excited to create these urban gardens at our schools. Nutrition education is very important for our children. These gardens are yet another way IPS is promoting wellness education throughout our schools,” said Audrey Satterblom, IPS Wellness Coordinator.
“Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is grateful for this opportunity to partner with IPS and Clarian on some real transformative work at our city’s schools,” said David Forsell, president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. “Children who have likely not dug their hands into the dirt or who may live in neighborhoods devoid of fresh food will now tend the land – developing pride in their neighborhood, a love of the environment, an ethic of service and healthier eating habits.”
• Individuals with supermarkets in their neighborhoods are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, which have been linked to a lower prevalence of obesity, reduced weight gain and a longer life. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 68 percent of individuals who live in low-income neighborhoods have limited or no access to supermarkets. As a result, individuals living in low-income areas consume far fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended by current dietary guidelines.
• Some research suggests that school gardens used as part of a nutrition education strategy can increase knowledge of fruits and vegetables and influence behavior change among children.
• School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while also serving as an important health education tool to help students understand how healthy food is produced.
• School gardens have also been shown to increase students’ nutrition knowledge, increase their preference to vegetables grown in the garden as well as vegetables they’d never been exposed to, and increase their willingness to ask their parents to buy vegetables.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc.
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About Clarian Health
As a preeminent leader in clinical care, education, research and service, Clarian Health is Indiana’s most comprehensive academic health center and one of the busiest hospital systems in the United States. Based in Indianapolis, Clarian owns or is affiliated with multiple hospitals and health centers throughout the state and maintains a strong partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine—the nation’s second largest medical school and a global leader in medical education and research. Learn more at www.clarian.org.
About Indianapolis Public Schools
Indianapolis Public Schools is Indiana’s largest school district with more than 32,000 students in 64 schools. IPS offers more educational choices than any other Indiana school district. Learn more about IPS at www.ips.k12.in.us.
About Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization uniting people to build community and transform public spaces through aesthetic and environmental improvement. In 2009, KIB worked with nearly 45,000 volunteers on 500 community projects. To learn more, please visit www.kibi.org.