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FOR RELEASE: October 21, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

“Action for Healthy Oklahoma Kids” Marks First Anniversary

October marks the first anniversary of the formation of the national Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK), a nationwide grassroots organization dedicated to promoting healthy school environments. On the state level, the Action for Healthy Oklahoma Kids (AHOK) carries on the work drafted at the Healthy Schools Summit, making great strides in combating the obesity epidemic one school at a time, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

AHOK is one of 51 state teams that are part of the national AFHK initiative, a collaboration of 39 national education, health and nutrition organizations and government agencies as well as a combined membership of nearly 2000 individuals. The initiative is chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, whose 2001 report, The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, brought nationwide attention to the childhood overweight epidemic.

AFHK and AHOK aim to take on the serious problem of overweight and obesity - along with malnutrition and sedentary lifestyles - which adversely affect our children at home and at school. Obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades. Now at epidemic proportions in the United States, overweight and obesity represent a serious and growing health and economic issue. The medical costs to treat obese children are 30 percent higher than those for children of normal weight.

During its first year in Oklahoma, AHOK made important strides in creating healthier school environments for the state’s children. Among the team achievements are:

  • Piloted a one-year program where 26 schools were selected to participate in the AHOK program with nutritional and physical activity curricula. These schools include the Schools for Healthy Lifestyles schools in the Oklahoma City area and the LIFESAVERS schools in Tulsa.
  • AHOK expert panel speakers shared the messages at several conferences including the UCO School Nurses Conference, Oklahoma State PTA Conference, Family and Consumer Science Teachers Conference, Encyclo-Media Conference, and the Oklahoma Education Association Convention.
  • AHOK messages were also shared throughout the state in news releases and media interviews.
  • AHOK partnered with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Oklahoma State Department of Health to present the 5th Annual Safe and Healthy Schools Conference to bring in nationally known speakers.

Participating elementary schools in Oklahoma City are Bodine, Adams, Britton, Buchanan, Columbus, Dewey, Heronville, Horace Mann, Johnson, North Highland, Pierce, Prairie Queen, Willow Brook, West Nichols Hills.

Other area elementary schools participating are Fillmore and Tinker in Moore; Shedeck and Surrey Hills in Yukon; Stand Watie in Arcadia; and Steed in Midwest City.

Tulsa elementary schools participating are: Alcott, Greely, Hawthorne, Kindsey, Sam Houston, and Gilcrease Middle School.

“We believe that with proper support from the community through AHOK, schools can help children reach their academic potential by providing an environment that supports sound nutrition and physical activity,” said AHOK Co-chair Beth Ramos.

To learn more about the Action for Healthy Kids initiative and to find out how you can get involved in the national AFHK or local Oklahoma AHOK team, visit the Web site at http://www.ActionForHealthyKids.org .

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