An “Outsider” Looking In to KY SHAPE's Cadre by Charisse Poynter

When I was invited to attend the Kentucky Department of Education's KY SHAPE Cadre at Lake Cumberland State Park, I was excited.  I admit to being anxious during my drive, because I did not know what to expect or how I would relate to the Cadre members and the material being covered since I am not from a teaching background.

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Kentucky Association for Health, PE Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD)

For years, I've attended the Oregon chapter of this same organization. It's the professional organization for educators and faculty in school health education, physical education, recreation and dance. It was my first year attending the KAHPERD conference and I was impressed. Sunday kicked off with a free pre-training (about 60 in attendance!) on the Presidential Youth Fitness Program. It is a free program developed to ensure what happens before, during and after the fitness assessment is beneficial for students and teachers and leads to youth who are active for life. 

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American School Health Association Conference

I took full advantage of being back in Portland for the third time in 3 months, this time at the American School Health Association Conference. Being that I just moved from there to Kentucky less than a year ago, there were plenty of people to connect with, but I focused on my own professional development and networking while in downtown Portland.

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Kentucky Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Afternoon panel at the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Afternoon panel at the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity

Yesterday, I was invited to an event that began with a wonderful reception at the Maxwell Place, residence of Drs Eli and Mary Lynne Capilouto (President and his wife) on the University of Kentucky's campus. The University of Kentucky (UK) hosted the KY Leadership Summit on Childhood Obesity in partnership with Kentucky Youth Advocates and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and with support of a health policy grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Summit kicked off after the reception with opening remarks from Dr. Steven Wyatt from the School of Public Health at UK and Terry Brooks, Executive Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates. They both did a good job of framing the day… why we were there and what they hope we would accomplish by the end of the day. We were a selected group of organizations and individuals (about 50 people total) in attendance and they hoped we would come to consensus on 3 action items for next steps to address childhood obesity in the Commonwealth. 

We don’t know how to eat, how to create calorie-rich environments.
— David Jones, Jr, Jefferson County Public Schools Board of Education Member, Humana Board of Directors and Chairman of Chrysalis Ventures.

Bill Goodman from Kentucky Education Television interviewed David Jones, representing the Board of Education for Jefferson County Public Schools. David was the Chair of the Humana Board (in which he is still a member) and runs a venture capitalist, Chrysalis Ventures that funds innovative health and technology projects. David suggested that in Kentucky we are fortunate to have a lot of green space, where farmers markets and community gardens may continue to flourish. However, in the urban settings, which he called vertical cities, green space is few and far between. The key to change is using science, knowledge and marketing skills to change the food industry. With Yum! Brands located in Kentucky, we have an opportunity to work with them, not against them, to change the landscape in our communities. They have the skills, brain power and background in the engineering of food in which we can tap into to create healthier communities. David would like to see more education, as he views education to be a direct correlation to health. He also believes we need to change the price of calories, making the nutrient-rich choice the more affordable one. 

Who are you trying to punish? The teacher or the kid?
— Tom Shelton, Superintendent Fayette County School

After the morning interview with David, there were 4, 10 minute TED-style talks given by Dr. Leon Mooneyhan, CEO from Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, Dr. Heather Erwin, Director of Graduate Studies at UK, Dr. Tom Shelton Superintendent, Fayette County Schools and Jamie Sparks, Director of Coordinated School Health, Kentucky Department of Education. Highlights include Heather discussing the research behind how implementing Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP) does NOT decrease academic achievement. She went on to discuss the links between health and academic achievement. Tom Shelton talked about how schools sometimes implement silent lunch and take away recess or use physical activity as a punishment. Tom asked, "Who are you trying to punish? The teacher or the kid?" Jamie talked about how in school health we keep trying to find more water to put out the fire versus actually addressing the issues. "We need to get to a point where PE and Health Education is a normal part of the school day. Obesity is a river with lots of contributaries. There are many moving parts." Jamie went on to say that racial, disability and gender inequities were not created within school environments. They were bigger social issues in which schools addressed and became agents of change. Obesity is no different. Schools, as entire communities should address the issue. 

Jess Lawrence, Mary Lynne Capilouto and Jamie Sparks

Jess Lawrence, Mary Lynne Capilouto and Jamie Sparks

In the afternoon, there was an expert panel facilitated by Bill Goodman and included Julie Brackett, VP of Advocacy at the American Heart Association, Dr. Heather Erwin, Director of Graduate Studies at UK, Dr. Stu Silverman, ED at Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence and Dr. Susan Zepeda, CEO Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. I currently do contract work with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and was thrilled to hear Susan discuss how philanthropy/Foundations can help support and address the issue of childhood obesity within schools. She reminded us how the norm should be creating healthy environments and how we all need to model healthy behaviors. We did it with tobacco.

Put a certified PE teacher in every school.
— Wilson Sears, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents

We were then assigned into break out groups to discuss what the ONE next step we would like to see to address childhood obesity within school environments in the Commonwealth. It was wonderful to hear Wilson Sears from the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents say, "Put a certified PE teacher in every school." My break out discussed building awareness, who the right influencers are to build awareness, fitness measures for schools and increase community engagement. Each of the 3 break out groups came to consensus on their top three ideas and from there, all 9 ideas were distilled to three. The three big ideas will be around support and professional development to educators (builds awareness), community and school partnerships and policy. Next steps include workgroups to being strategic planning to implement some of the ideas we discussed in the initial meeting. 

Organizations represented were:
Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky School Board Association
Kentucky Cancer Consortium
YMCA of Greater Louisville
American Heart Association
Kentucky Department of Education
University of Kentucky
Tweens Coalition
Center for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
Former Meade County Superintendent 
KY Assocation for Health, PE, Recreation and Dance
Lexington YMCA
Kentucky Legislature
Kentucky Education Television
Friedell Committee
Kentucky Association of School Councils
Hardin County Schools
JCPS Board of Education
UK, College of Education, School of Public Health, Department of Pediatrics, College of Agriculture
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Kentucky Board of Education
KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services
KY Association of School Superintendents
Fayette County Schools
Prichard Committee
Kentucky PTA
Lincoln County Schools

Susan Zepeda encouraged us all to model healthy activities. Proud to say the day ended with a gorgeous bicycle ride in Mammoth Cave National Park with Jamie Sparks and Stephanie Bunge from the Kentucky Department of Education while traveling from this event in Lexington to Bowling Green for another school health event the following day!

Jess Lawrence, Stephanie Bunge and Jamie Sparks enjoying a bike ride after the event!

Jess Lawrence, Stephanie Bunge and Jamie Sparks enjoying a bike ride after the event!

Safe and Sound, KET Special Report

We used to think a person’s IQ would determine professional success. Now we know that the first year of life may determine a lot more than we once thought.

Last week I attended the premiere viewing of Kentucky Educational Television's (KET) Special Report called "Safe and Sound; Raising Emotionally Healthy Children in a Stressful World," produced by Laura Krueger, and in part funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The report discusses the impact of trauma and toxic stress among children and focuses on early life experiences. A child who experiences toxic stress (not being held, needs not being met, divorce, exposure to violence, neglect) is more likely to have behavioral and emotional issues in the future. The Report discusses, in fact that adults with weight problems and overeating addictions are more likely to have experienced toxic stress as a child. We have to reduce adverse childhood experiences because chronic or toxic stress, if extreme or persistent enough, will result in your body unable to recover.

The Report does a fabulous job addressing some of the solutions and programs that are happening around our state.  In Kentucky, over 20,000 youth have an incarcerated parent. At the Mason County Detention Center, within the substance abuse recovery program, Angela Mitchell from UK Extension teaches parenting classes to the men. Yelling and fighting are not good for babies brains. And, physical punishment should be removed as a way to discipline children.The HANDS Program through the KY Department of Health works with families by going to their homes and teaching them parenting skills. The Portland Promise Center is more of a peer to peer support group and has a resource called Ages and Stages which encourages parents to complete to know if their child is Kindergarten ready. If not, they are linked with resources in the community to help that child get on track. The START program works with parents with addiction issues in which their addiction has meant social services has taken their children away. The START program provides counseling and support around addiction with the hopes that these parents go into recovery and are able to effectively parent their children.

Symptoms of youth who have undergone toxic stress include having no empathy, attention deficit, misbehave to get attention. We tend to treat the symptoms with medication, never understanding the root cause. The Report encourages that any parent struggling with parenting skills or their child's behavior should access support. 

This Report was incredibly well-done and helps explain some of the behavioral issues we see in the K-12 setting. Addressing the emotional problems children have early and supporting all parents with education, awareness and support would help create healthier families and a healthier community.

If you would like to see a preview, click here.

60% of children in the US are being raised successfully attached. 40% of parents are raising their children insecurely attached.

Kentucky Youth Health Network

Formerly the KY Teen Pregnancy Coalition, the KY Youth Health Network has decided to expand their scope of work to all areas of preventative youth health behaviors. This organization, currently a 501c3, is going through a planning process to develop a new mission, purpose and strategic plan. This past Monday, I was fortunate enough to facilitate a strategic planning session with this passionate Board including representation from the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Clark County Health Department (HD), Jessamine County HD, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Kentuckiana Works, Lexington/Fayette County HD and KY River District HD - Lee County. 

By the end of the day, we came up with action steps that will not only be short-term next steps, but long-term actions that will be part of a new strategic plan. We engaged in a fun activity to practice our elevator pitch which led to the development of a word cloud and we were presented with Kentucky's most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data results by Stephanie Bunge at the KY DOE. Stay tuned as this group transitions to a broader perspective on youth health and works to bring on more partners and collaborate with more organizations to create a healthier Kentucky for our adolescents! 

"It's Just One Cupcake… What's the Big Deal?"

Surprisingly, the most difficult, heated, complicated, divisive discussions in school health right now do not have to do with sex education, but celebrations and competitive foods (vending/fundraisers). I recently saw a friend post on Facebook that she brought cupcakes to her son's pre-school birthday party. I texted her that she was killing me! Her response? It's the last year he gets them. Well, I didn't respond, but I don't think she got it. I'm not against cupcakes or sugar. But, here's the point...

Jill Turley, the Competitive Food Content Advisor for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation recently presented at the Smart Snacks Summit in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She asked, "Have you heard, It's just one cupcake… what's the big deal?" I chuckled thinking it was only days prior I heard the same argument. Jill showed a recent photo of a elementary school student's plate after a Valentine's Day celebration. Almost 600 calories. Never mind how many students visited the nurses office as a result of a headache after. Or, the behavior in the classroom post-celebration. Jill mentioned that in a class of 20 students, if every kid had cupcakes for their birthday, that amounts to over 10,000 extra calories a year for these students. For an adult, that's an extra 10lbs a year.

And again, what about the time off-task as a result of the sugar… isn't school about creating consistently healthy messages? Our youth are getting plenty of sugar outside of schools. Let's keep schools a place where what they learn in nutrition education is consistent with healthy messages, policies and practices. Rewarding students with food leads to encouraging them to eat when they are not necessarily hungry, and these become learned behaviors in adulthood that we know are contributing to overeating and adult obesity issues. 

So, what are some ideas for birthday celebrations? Most of these come from Jill's presentation (thanks Jill!):

  • Dance party with a special playlist
  • Extra playtime
  • Show and tell
  • Scavenger hunt

If you still want to have food:

  • Spa water (kids pick their own veggies and fruits to add (cucumbers, mint, strawberries, oranges, bananas, etc)
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Trail Mix bar (they get a bag and create their own with different options. If you can't use nuts, use seeds!
  • Roll ups- have cookie cutters to make shapes

If you weren't able to attend the The Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Smart Snack Summits last week which provided professional development, resources and information on the new federal regulations on smart snacks in school that go into affect July 1, you can go here to find out more. 

I was invited by Jacy Wooley, western Kentucky Program Manager for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The training participants included district food service directors, health and PE teachers, school board members, Department of Education representative, administrators and other school health advocates. Thanks for the invite Jacy... fabulous, informative workshop!

Franklin County Public Schools

A good friend and colleague of mine, Audra, is a middle school health and PE teacher in Frankfort, Kentucky. Recently, Audra was visiting me in Louisville for a late Sunday lunch and we got on the topic of health education and lack of professional development (PD) opportunities for her district. It's not that her administration doesn't support health and PE. It's that there aren't dollars to provide strong PD in both areas. And, with more PD days cut over the years, not much time. And, when that happens… you have educators not implementing best practices, but rather doing what they've 'always done'. And, that isn't what is best for education and learning. A lot has changed in health education even in the past ten years. 

Elkhorn Middle School, Audra's school is an Alliance for a Healthier Generation school. And Audra is the health education champion in her district. Advocating for the subjects of health and PE and working on coordinated school health, a broader school health approach that focuses not only on health and PE curriculum, but policy, staff health promotion, food service, school counseling, environment and more! When Audra mentioned that she had a meeting with her Superintendent, Chrissy Jones that upcoming Thursday morning, I was impressed. I know the district isn't tiny and was thrilled to hear that Chrissy is supportive of school health and meets with Audra regularly When I heard that, my mind kicked into gear.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of research on what makes a school health program sustainable. I've been reading research articles, interviewing evaluators and implementors at the school, district, state and national level. You know what keeps coming up in the research? A superintendent that believes there is a link between health and learning and supports building comprehensive school health environments within a district. There are other factors that support sustainability… having district and school-wide wellness councils, strengthening policies, addressing staff health, building partnerships, etc. But, it keeps coming back to that leadership support. And, the educational leader doesn't have to be intensely involved. But, they do have to support the work. They may push back and have to make strategic decisions based on timing and capacity, but overall, they are a believer that healthy kids learn better. 

So, yes, I thought about all of this as Audra was sitting there talking. I just moved to Kentucky. Work is picking up. Can I donate two days to provide strong PD to all their health teachers? Why not? Why not offer? So, I did. And within a few days, I heard directly from Chrissy. And now, we have a 2-day Using Health Education Standards and Assessment in the Classroom training being offered in July! My expectation is that all the secondary teachers teaching health education (whether they are a health specialist, or science teacher teaching health) are expected to attend the full two days. And, one teacher representative from each of the elementary schools. Systems change takes time. I hope to build their skills in the health education content standards, give them opportunities to score student work using rubrics, develop strong, innovative, fun performance assessments and write a health education unit, maybe even integrated with another subject area. They will leave with so much knowledge and skill gain. I hope to model over 25 teaching strategies and over 50% of what I model and what they learn is applicable in any subject area in school. 

I can't offer tons of free PD training to everyone all the time. However, in a district that has a leader that supports the belief that when students are healthy they will achieve at higher rates, and contacts me directly… I'm there! Kudos to Audra for her continued advocacy and support of health education and coordinated school health. And thanks to Chrissy for her leadership. I'm thrilled for the opportunity!

Jefferson County Coordinated School Health Steering Committee Meeting

Jefferson County Public Schools in which Louisville is a part, has a district Coordinated School Health (CSH) Committee. It's an impressive group that represents internal and external partners, the way a district wellness committee should be. It demonstrates partnership and collaboration and diverse stakeholders and that schools can't do this work alone. 

The meeting is facilitated by Bonnie Ciarroccki, the Coordinator for Health Services/Health Promotion Schools of Excellence. I've been invited to sit on this committee as a community member and it's really nice to be hearing local successes and challenges again. I really appreciate this group inviting me to the table. Tuesday of this week we had a meeting and we reviewed a SharePoint site (for internal school administrators) that this committee (prior to me!) has worked so hard on. The website works off CDCs Coordinated School Health Components. When you click on the different components, there is a visual that shares federal, state and local policies that fit into that component, a great resource for administrators. We are now working on best practices within each of the components to share. So, if an administrator wants to do something around staff wellness, he/she can see any policies related to that component and best practices around implementing staff wellness programs. It's a great resource and the hope is we have more schools implementing school health programs within our district. 

We have the following representation on this diverse committee:

Health Services
Family Resource and Youth Service Center Director
Nutrition Services
Counseling and Psychology
Practical living
Health Promotion Schools of excellence
Kentucky Department of Education 
Metro Health Department
Center for Health Equity
District PTA
SBDM Specialist
Seven Counties
Parent Assistance Center
…and me, Community Member! :)


My First Twitter Chat #SDpechat

I started getting information on this thing called a Twitter chat about a week ago. And, I assumed what it was, and my assumptions were right. You reading this may have experienced one, or maybe you lead them all of the time. I had no idea what is was going to be like. 

So, for those of you who have no idea what it is, let me explain, since I participated in my first Twitter chat on Wednesday night.

The overall intended goals for this chat, moderated by Jamie Sparks, Kentucky Department of Education (Twitter handle @JamieSparksCSH), Robin MeMe Ratliff (@meme3rat) and Jacy Wooley, Alliance for a Healthier Generation ( @jacysproverb), was to establish lines of communication amongst those attending Southern District American Alliance for Health, PE, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Conference, promote higher level professional discussions (although the first one this week was meant to introduce people), spark interest in sessions, share common topics of what people would like to see/hear, and motivate people to attend sessions they might not have thought about attending otherwise.

What do you do on a Twitter chat? Well, you login into your account, go to search and type in the hashtag of the chat. This hashtag was #SDpechat. And, if you look that up now, you can scroll back and review the entire chat we had. Make sure to click on "All" versus "Top" or else you won't get all the results, only the top trending. So, at 9pm, the time of the meeting, I typed in the hashtag and did a search. The chat leaders posted directions that they would be posting a series of questions (they ended up asking 6 over the course of the hour) and to tweet (post) your answer, tag the 3 moderators and use the hashtag #SDpeChat with the question number. See example below.

#SDpechat Q1 – Are you attending SD? How many conventions have you attended? "Yes, & I have attended 9 conventions. @jacysproverb @meme3rat @JamieSparksCSH #SDpechat Q1."

Then, you see what people write as you 'refresh' your page and you have the opportunity to respond to people's tweets (you may know them, or start following them now, or they begin following you), retweet or favorite. After about 5-8 minutes, another question was posted. Below are the other 5 questions we chatted about.

#SDpechat Q2 – Have you been to Kentucky before? If yes, share a highlight.
#SDpechat Q3 – Who is your favorite PE group/person to follow on Twitter?
#SDpechat Q4 – Are you presenting at SD? If so session/time etc?
#SDpechat Q5 – What session or activity at SD you most looking forward to?
#SDpechat Q6 – What specific topics do want discussed for #SDpechat #2 on 2/12? 

As a result of last night's chat...

  • I have 21 new followers (some that were part of the chat, some that picked up on a tweet theme or tag and began following me)
  • I started following about 15 new people that were referred to during Q3 from others
  • I engaged with new people in the field that I'll meet in person Feb 19-22 in Lexington at Southern District
  • I become more knowledgable about offerings at the conference and learned something new about people on the chat. It was worth the hour and ton of fun!

Take note: next SDpeChat will be at 9pm EST, 2/12. Tweet with ya then!