Implement Healthy Habits All Year Long

Lysol is a financial sponsor of National PTA and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

shutterstock_439878460

The summer break has officially begun and your children are likely making the most of every minute of every day, from summer camp and playdates to BBQs and picnics! As part of the Healthy Habits Program, Lysol hopes to spread the word on the healthy habits you can teach your children and practice this summer, starting with changes you can make in your own backyard. Whether your family is vacationing at the beach or throwing a BBQ at home, arm your children with the knowledge to help them stay healthy and truly make a memorable summer break. Some simple ways include:

  • Grill with Knowledge: For your summer BBQs and picnics, give your children a lesson in food safety using the CDC BBQ IQ[1] Key takeaways include properly washing surfaces that have come in contact with raw meat and thoroughly washing veggies. And of course, washing hands before and after they eat!
  • Drink Water and Have Fun: Longer days mean your children will likely be spending more time outside. Remind them of the importance of staying hydrated while playing outdoors A good rule of thumb is have them drink five to eight cups of water a day.
  • Clean to Support Your School: Lysol and Box Tops for Education partnered to help promote healthy habits and support schools across the U.S. If you’re one of many parents who collect Box Tops for your children’s school, you can now also collect from Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray.

Visit Lysol.com/HealthyHabits for more information on the Healthy Habits Program.


Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices. Box Tops for Education and associated words and designs are trademarks of General Mills, used under license. ©General Mills

[1] CDC.gov. “BBQ IQ. Get Smart. Grill Safely” (Accessed June 1, 2015)

Save

Save

Protecting the Progress We’ve Made in School Nutrition

shutterstock_432895717It’s hard to believe that before long, it will be back-to-school time again.  Like many of you, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been hard at work this summer preparing for the upcoming school year. Over the past six years since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, schools across the country have made incredible progress in ensuring all children have access to more nutritious food in school.

Today, joined by Kelly Langston, president of North Carolina PTA, USDA is announcing four final rules that continue the Obama Administration’s historic commitment to building a healthier next generation. While they won’t make any drastic new changes, these rules will ensure the positive changes schools have already made will remain in place and improve children’s health for years to come.

National PTA has advocated for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs since they were first created, and I am proud to have PTA join us for this announcement. You have been one of USDA’s most valued partners, advocating for changes like stronger nutrition standards and more family and community involvement in local school wellness policies to promote nutrition and physical activity in schools. Thanks to your advocacy in Washington and your leadership in local school districts, 98% of schools nationwide are now meeting updated, science-based nutrition standards and serving meals with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy—and less sodium—in age-appropriate portion sizes. USDA is also seeing healthier school environments overall for the more than 52 million children who attend schools that participate in the USDA meal programs.

One of the biggest advances made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the Smart Snacks in School rule, which ensured for the first time that all food and beverages sold a la carte in the cafeteria, in vending machines, or elsewhere on the school campus meet practical, science-based nutrition standards in-line with the requirements for school lunches and breakfasts. Schools have already implemented the Smart Snacks rule and are offering an impressive variety of options that meet the new standards and are popular with students.  The Smart Snacks final rule USDA is announcing today will ensure this progress remains in place.

About 70% of elementary and middle school students are exposed to some form of food or beverage marketing at school.  The Local School Wellness Policy final rule, also announced today, ensures that any food or beverage marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the same Smart Snacks standards.  National PTA has long been a strong supporter of robust school wellness policies that create healthy, supportive learning environments as children spend a majority of their day in school. National PTA was instrumental in developing this rule, which requires schools to engage parents, students, and community members in the creation of their local school wellness policies, and empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. States and local communities will continue to have flexibility in developing wellness policies that work best for them.

shutterstock_293985629The two other rules announced today, the Community Eligibility Provision final rule and the Administrative Review final rule, will codify changes that have improved access to school meals for low-income children and strengthened oversight and integrity in the programs at the State level. The Community Eligibility Provision, another major advance made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, allows school districts or individual schools with high numbers of low-income children to serve free meals to all students, eliminating the need for parents to fill out a free lunch application and reducing burdensome paperwork for school administrators so they can focus on what’s most important—feeding kids. More than 18,000 high-poverty schools serving 8.5 million students are now participating in this streamlined option, which has been shown to increase student participation in breakfast and lunch.

When kids return to school and Congress returns to work in September, USDA and the Administration will continue to call on Congress to reauthorize the Federal child nutrition programs. The Senate Agriculture Committee has already passed a bi-partisan bill that would protect the progress we have made and earned PTA’s support. The Senate bill would also support grants and loans to help schools purchase the kitchen equipment and infrastructure they need to prepare healthy meals, which National PTA has called for.

Children’s ability to learn in the classroom and reach their fullest potential depends on what we do right now to ensure their health.  USDA is grateful for National PTA’s partnership in ensuring every child in America has the opportunity to grow up healthy and succeed in school and later in life. Together, we have supported these healthy changes that will benefit our children—and our country– far into the future.


Tom Vilsack serves as the nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture.

Save

Save

Reducing Underage Drinking–One Town Hall Meeting at a Time

PTA_CT

Summer vacation is in full swing. This can be a relaxing time for students as they have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and break away from the stress of school. Unfortunately, it can also be a risky time, especially for teenagers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Report, “Monthly Variation in Substance Use Initiation among Adolescents,” during summer vacation, more teens start using alcohol than in other months.

Parents and teachers can play a vital role in reducing underage drinking. By working together to reward each student’s decision not to drink and ensure that social events do not provide a drinking environment, parents and teachers are in a powerful position to address the perils of underage drinking.

One of the ways SAMHSA addresses the prevention of and increases the national conversation about underage drinking is with its Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking initiative. Having these conversations makes a difference. In 2014, 83% of the town hall meeting participants reported gaining new knowledge about the prevention of underage alcohol use, and 48% of event hosts reported they planned to follow up their event by developing a prevention strategy.

The initiative provides several tools and resources to help parents and teachers begin this conversation. SAMHSA provides community-based organizations with a $500 stipend to mobilize their communities to prevent underage drinking. Tools to help you plan an event include an underage drinking fact sheet, a Guide to Youth Engagement in Underage Drinking Prevention Events, success stories and parent resources.

Join the over 1,300 communities nationwide in hosting a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking:

  1. Email info@stopalcoholabuse.net to express your interest in hosting a meeting. Please include the name of your organization, contact name, contact email, contact phone number and name of an affiliate national organization.
  1. Register to host a Communities Talk meeting. After you send an email expressing your interest, you will receive an invitation to register. Then, you will have the opportunity to receive a $500 planning stipend.
  1. Plan your Communities Talk meeting to prevent underage drinking using the resources available.

Frances M. Harding is the director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Save

Save

10 Ways to Get Kids Reading this Summer

This blog was originally posted on the Great Schools blog.

Summer-reading-resized-750x325

School’s out, the days are longer, and suddenly kids have time on their hands, and you’d like them to put down their tablet and pick up a book. After all, studies show children who read when they’re out of school do better academically than those who avoid cracking open a book.

California Library Association is asking patrons across the state to encourage their local libraries to be a part of the Five Book Summer Reading Challenge. CLA has innovative programs to share or seek at least a calculation of how many books were read. Reading just five books during the summer reduce summer learning loss–significantly more than three or four books. Here are 10 ways to get even the most reluctant reader started on a reading adventure.

  1. Get inspired by Hollywood

    Movies can be a great way to get kids excited about reading, so kick-start summer with film adaptations of popular children’s books. Parents might Netflix Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), based on a book by Roald Dahl. If kids warm up to Mr. Fox, you’ll be able to introduce them to the book version  as well as other titles by the author, such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The BFG.

  2. Take a book-themed vacation

    “I can go anywhere!” — or so says the theme song to the PBS show Reading Rainbow. Parents could do a lot worse than taking those songsmiths to heart and helping children plan a vacation inspired by a book they love. To start, try reading Liz Garton Scanlon’s picture book All the World while planning a trip to the beach. New Englanders might visit Providence, R.I., after reading the historical young adult novel The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

  3. Meet the authors

    Kids of all ages can benefit from attending an in-person literary event. Authors routinely make appearances at bookstores to read their latest work, and these events are often sparsely attended. Seeing the person behind the words could inspire kids to try a new book. For dates and times, check local news and bookstore websites.

  4. Get cookin’ with books

    Parents of kids who aren’t interested in the more traditional children’s books might want to steer their offspring toward other genres. Cookbooks can encourage kids to master practical skills while providing a delicious payoff at the end. The American Grandparents Association recommends 12 cookbooks for kids 3 and older. And children who branch out into the world of food blogs will find endless reasons to keep reading.

  5. Wise up on magazines

    Magazines cater to many interests and can inspire kids to read deeply on subjects they enjoy. Among magazines suitable for younger readers, several well-known magazines, such as Sports Illustrated and National Geographic, offer “kids” editions. Parents’ Choice has a list of spring 2015 winners here. Teens in particular may want something for the more mature: Seventeen, Teen Vogue, ESPN or MAD — and most magazines are available for electronic readers such as Kindle and Nook.

  6. Create a readers’ theater

    Parents can bring books to life by staging scenes from favorite stories. Act out characters, read scenes aloud, try funny voices, and use props from around the house — do whatever it takes to get kids excited about the story. By imagining themselves in the roles of their favorite characters, children can make a deeper connection to what they’re reading.

  7. Listen to your books

    Parents might not realize that audiobooks are freely available for checkout at most public libraries. Take your children to the library (or iTunes), and pick out the perfect summer tale, then set aside some time to listen to the audiobook together.

  8. Throw a blog party

    Make reading social by helping your kids — or, more likely, having them help you — set up a reading blog on sites such as Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, or Tumblr. While getting them set up should be relatively painless, kids might need encouragement to keep writing, so make sure you help them stick to a schedule. For even more online fun, see if you can get your children’s friends involved as well.

  9. Organize a summer series

    With school out, children have extra time to get sucked in by the compelling narratives of popular series. For the youngest set, start with picture books such as Babar. Genre books can be particularly addictive for older kids: The Lord of the Rings is a classic — and one of the best.

  10. Be strong and read hard!

    It’s especially important for parents to model the behavior they want to see in their children. Some parents only read after their kids are in bed, but summer is a great time to take the books off the bedside table and make them part of vacation or leisure time. Whether that means booting up the Kindle or dusting off old Anna K, show your kids you still love a good read, too.

Save

Illinois PTA President Honored with Father of the Year Award

matthew=rodgriguezLast month, Illinois PTA President Matthew Rodriguez was recognized with an honorary “Father of the Year” award by the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative (IFI) at its 19th Anniversary Fatherhood Dinner Celebration.

The IFI is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster loving and caring father-figure relationships in the community and actively engage fathers in the education of children. Notable members of the IFI include President Barrack Obama, Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Each June, the IFI hosts the Fatherhood Dinner Celebration to honor prominent dads for being positive male role models for their own and all children in their community. Rodriguez was selected to receive the Father of the Year award by IFI CEO David Hirsch for his dedication to making a difference in the lives of all children.

This is not the first accolade Rodriguez has received. Last fall, he was honored with the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation’s (ILLCF) Service Award. Rodriguez was among four recipients chosen by the ILLCF Board to receive the award for his significant contributions to the Latino community in Illinois and his important work as the first Hispanic male president of Illinois PTA.

As president of Illinois PTA, Rodriguez has been committed to increasing male engagement in schools and communities. Research shows that some 24 million children—1.1 million in Illinois alone—are growing up today in homes without fathers, which adversely affects children, families and communities. Children who do not have a father or male figure in their lives look up to male role models in their schools. And when men are present in schools, student achievement increases and negative behavior decreases.

Among his other efforts, Rodriguez recently participated in the 21st Century Dads Honor Ride 2016, a cycling campaign to raise awareness and resources for fatherhood charities. The purpose of the ride is to highlight the importance of dads in their children’s lives, create greater awareness of the father absence crisis and raise necessary funds for fatherhood organizations to support ongoing efforts to combat fatherlessness. As part of the ride, participants visited police stations, fire stations and other locations in communities to honor dads and thank them for being present in their children’s lives.


Olivia Kimmel is the PR and social media intern at National PTA.

 

What This Means: Secretary King Stresses the Necessity of Diversity at #PTAcon16

JohnKing

In a keynote address at the Think BIG… Think PTA! National PTA 2016 Annual Conference, attended by over 1,000 PTA members and advocates, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King voiced the importance of having diverse schools and classrooms. He urged PTA members to “demand diversity—not just in schools but also in the classrooms within those schools,” and added that “diversity is not a nicety but a necessity. Not just for some students, but for all of our students.”

Research shows that diversity of teachers and students results in better academic and life outcomes for all students. Nearly half of today’s public school students identify as non-white, but only 18% of the teaching force identifies this way, resulting in students rarely identifying culturally and racially with their educators.

Congress is taking steps to address the lack of diversity in schools. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) will soon be introducing legislation which would offer grants to help districts create and implement strong voluntary, community-developed plans to increase socioeconomic diversity in their schools while improving student achievement.

­Congress cannot tackle this issue alone. Secretary King stressed that PTAs across the country have a unique opportunity to increase diversity within schools. He pressed PTA members to find out if there is a formal outreach effort in place and if not to “start it and lead it.” He went further by stating “if your school is diverse but its PTA doesn’t reflect that diversity, take the time to get to know parents from different backgrounds. Invite them to join you.”

National PTA has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. To further this effort, we recently updated the Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit to help PTA leaders make their PTA more welcoming and inclusive for all children and families by honoring their differences. Be sure to download it for in-depth guidance, but in the meantime, here are a few ways to embrace diversity and multiculturalism in your school community:

  • Make the connection with your community and identify different audiences such as community colleges, hospitals, parks, libraries, etc.
  • Distribute information to staff and families about community resources that serve the cultural, recreational, academic, health, social and other needs of families.
  • Foster student participation in community service and involve community members in school volunteer programs.
  • Disseminate information to the community, including those without school age children, regarding school programs and performance.
  • Collaborate with community agencies to provide family support services and adult learning opportunities, enabling family involvement.

PTA members have an important obligation to ensure that diversity is prioritized in our nation’s schools and to advocate so that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Diverse student bodies and teaching forces allow students to learn how to work productively with people whose life experiences are different from their own.

Find more resources and information about diversity and inclusion on PTA.org.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator for National PTA.

Save

Senate HELP Committee Holds Fourth ESSA Implementation Hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing with Department of Education Secretary John B. King June 29 to discuss recent proposals regarding the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “We want this law to succeed,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated at the beginning and the end of the hearing. This was the fourth time that the committee has held a hearing with Secretary King about ESSA implementation.

Senators expressed the concerns that many administrators, school districts and families have about the timeline of the implementation process for states to draft their accountability plans. Current plans require implementation of an accountability system for the 2017-2018 school year and identification of underperforming schools the same year.

In response to the current timeline, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt stated in a letter to the Department that “no state will be able to implement a new system that takes full advantage of ESSA by the 2016-17 school year as implied by USED staff.”

Secretary King told lawmakers that they “are open to comment on the timeline and open to adjusting that timeline.” Their ultimate goal is to guarantee the easy transition into the new accountability system and setting up every school across the nation for success.

Stakeholder engagement was another major concern several senators wanted to clarify with Secretary King. The provision for family engagement in ESSA is a new and much-needed change from previous education law. King addressed the issue by mentioning the resources made available on stakeholder engagement. For instance, there is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Stakeholder Engagement Guide, which National PTA and 16 other organizations collaborated on to address the concerns many senators have about how to meaningfully involve stakeholders.

The guide highlights that stakeholder engagement requirements provide an “opportunity for state education agencies (SEAs) to not only connect with current education advocates, but to seek out those who feel disconnected or who have not been historically engaged in a public education dialogue.”

Ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard in the development of the law and its implementation helps create a plan of action that is holistic and addresses the unique concerns of states and districts. National PTA also has other resources regarding stakeholder engagement, all of which can be found at PTA.org/ESSA.

As Chairman Alexander said in his opening and closing remarks, the purpose of these hearings is the same sentiment that the National PTA has expressed since ESSA passed: ensuring the law succeeds. As Secretary King said, ESSA’s goal is to provide a “rich, rigorous and well-rounded education.” Senator Murray added that the law is designed to provide “civil rights and opportunity for every child.”

To ensure a rich, rigorous and well-rounded education, it is up to parents and families to get involved with the process. Many states are currently holding working groups and stakeholder engagement meetings. National PTA strongly urges parents to attend these meetings and voice their opinions and concerns. The best way for children to benefit academically is for parents, educators and policymakers to work together. To learn how you can be engaged in the implementation process, visit PTA.org/ESSA.


 

Blake Altman is the government affairs intern for National PTA. Lindsay Kubatzky, the government affairs coordinator at National PTA contributed to this article.