Mark Twain School launches new class to teach students and parents about healthy meals

On the day that new federal standards have been issued for school lunches, Mark Twain School is demonstrating how its supports healthy living every day. The school is launching a brand new cooking class aimed at teaming up middle school students and their parents with a nutrition educator and a chef to learn to cook healthier meals.

The school has made the promotion of healthier lifestyles one of its school improvement goals.

Among the activities:
As an extension of the school’s Generation with Promise (GWP) grant, Mark Twain is part of the Family Enhancement Project. Through the office of Michigan’s Surgeon General, the school is offering a Side-by-Side Cooking Class, where middle school students and their parents partner up with a nutrition educator and a chef to learn to cook healthier meals. The six-week class includes a guided grocery shopping field trip. Also part of the GWP program, Mark Twain has a Student Action Team led by its Physical Education/Health teacher, which promotes healthy food and exercise choices among middle school students. The school also has a new indoor climbing wall (courtesy of BCBSM) and fitness room, and will soon have an outdoor walking track.

Mark Twain School also is one of 20 schools in 17 states to receive a Fit Families of America (FFAME) Health Grant. For students in grades 2-5, there is a twice weekly DVD clip 5-8 minutes in length on various nutrition and physical fitness topics, which can be viewed in the classroom or in the gym.

Students can then access the FFAME website, where they find online quizzes, polls, writing prompts and extension activities to be completed in school or at home with their families.

The school is in the process of rehabilitating its school greenhouse with help from Marathon Oil Corp. When completed, Mark Twain will grow vegetables and herbs hydroponically to create healthy salads and pizzas for students to sample.

Mark Twain also received a Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Grant, allowing students to receive fresh snacks every Tuesday and Thursday. The school also participates in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to combat childhood obesity.

As a district, DPS today, along with The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)-Michigan Chapter, have announced a partnership to promote First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign citywide. Michigan SCLC President Michael Grace and Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb made the announcement.

“Let’s Move!” is a national campaign aimed at eliminating childhood obesity by promoting healthy foods in schools, helping students increase physical fitness, and supporting parents by ensuring the availability of healthy, affordable food.

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb welcomed another opportunity to showcase the district’s reforms in the national spotlight. Bobb stated that DPS followed President Obama’s lead when he signed the Healthy, Hunger Free Act in 2010 by ensuring healthy foods to decrease obesity and other health-related chronic diseases and reviewing all health-related matters affecting children’s well being. “We also employ innovative programs such as the Farm to School Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and many initiatives with collaborating universities, foundations, agencies and cooperatives,” Bobb said.

As part of the initiative, 50,000 DPS students in grades Pk-8 will be encouraged to sign a “Stomp Out Childhood Obesity” pledge to devote a minimum of 60 minutes daily to physical activity; drink water regularly; eat fruits and vegetables; and reduce time watching television. DPS schools and classes that participate successfully will receive incentives including tickets to sporting events and concerts at the end of the school year.

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