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FOR RELEASE: September 23, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Conference Shows Link Between Health and Academics
5th Annual Safe and Healthy Schools Conference Starts Sept. 30

Day one of a free, two-day conference on Safe and Healthy Schools will focus on the link between good health and good academics by addressing the need for physical activity and nutrition within the schools, all goals of the Action for Healthy Oklahoma Kids (AHOK) initiative. AHOK seeks to reduce obesity in Oklahoma children.

The conference begins Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Nigh University Center. It opens with a keynote speaker sponsored by AHOK: William Potts-Datema, director of Partnerships for Children’s Health at the Harvard School for Public Health. His keynote address, “Linking Health and Academics – the Importance of Quality Nutrition and Physical Activity in a Successful Student’s Life,” will include current research on the topic.

On Wednesday, Oct. 1, the keynote speaker will be Ted Strader, executive director of the Council on Prevention and Education: Substances (COPES). He will speak on “Building Healthy Individuals: Creating Lasting Family Connections.” That initiative seeks to improve the health of children by creating healthier school environments.

“The conference is open to the public and we are especially encouraging persons with health education backgrounds, those who work with children, as well as parents to attend the conference,” said Beth Ramos, director of Child and Adolescent Health, Oklahoma State Department of Health, and AHOK Co-Chair.

Sponsors of the conference include the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Health, Safety, and Physical Education Section; Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH); University of Central Oklahoma, Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies; Southwest Center for Prevention Technology; and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

AHOK has adopted the following Safe and Healthy Schools goals:

  • Provide age-appropriate and culturally sensitive instruction in health education and physical education that helps students develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors to adopt, maintain and enjoy healthy eating habits and a physically active lifestyle.
  • Provide food options that are low in fat, calories and added sugars, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat or nonfat dairy foods.
  • Encourage the use of school facilities for physical activity programs offered by the school and/or community-based organizations outside of school hours.

Highlights of the conference include:

  • Linking Health and Academics with William Potts-Datema, director of Partnerships for Children’s Health at the Harvard School of Public Health
    The Skills of Influence in Creating Lasting Family Connections with Ted Strader, executive director, COPES (Council on Prevention and Education: Substances)
  • Critical Components of a School Emergency Operations Plan with Steve Harris, Georgia Emergency Management Agency
  • Blame It on the Chemistry: Kids, Learning, and Medications with Dr. Tracy Hagemann
  • Implementing Bullying Prevention Programs in the Schools with Dr. Cynthia Hartung and Dr. Doug Scambler, OSU
  • Physical Education with the Pros, Tina Smith, Shawn Blankenship, Karen Allen and Tera Webb
  • A Panel on Bioterrorism

To register for this FREE two-day conference go to: www.sde.state.ok.us and click on Safe and Healthy Schools Conference Registration or call the OSDE at 405/521-2106.

For more information on how to get involved in the AHOK initiative, visit this Web site: www.actionforhealthykids.com or call the OSDH Child and Adolescent Health Division at 405/271-4471.


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