Unhealthy Students, Is There A Fix?
Have you stepped foot on a high school campus recently? If so, have you noticed the types of food these young people consume throughout the day? …As a teacher, I witness it first-hand!!!!
The eating habits of young people are truly depressing. One of my former students nearly fainted in class one day while conducting the lesson. When I asked her what was wrong, she let me in on her poor health status. Cindy was battling what she understood to be a rare blood condition that she couldn’t even pronounce. She brought the name to me on a piece of paper the next day: Beta Thalassemia Disease.
I’d never heard of the disorder, but I knew I could research it. So that night I perused some reputable health sites and discovered Beta Thalassemia Disease, also known as erythroblastic anemia or Mediterranean anemia. This condition is a hereditary blood disorder where the red blood cells don’t get the oxygen and carbon dioxide they need due to an imbalance in the production of hemoglobin.
Whew! That is quite a bit of information to digest, especially for a young girl with no concept of health. I now understood why Cindy felt so confused and had tears of frustration when trying to describe what she was going through. It was clear that no one had really explained to her what she was battling in a way that she could understand.
It was also clear that she had no clue on what foods could help her body!!!! I knew this to be true because I saw the types of foods Cindy dined on day in and out in my very class: prepackaged preservative filled cafeteria foods, snacks, soda, and candy. When I asked her if she knew what an antioxidant is, she asked, “Is it a bean?” We had some work to do!
I brought her some information on antioxidants and preservatives that next day. I even I brought her some healthy tasty snacks that are packed with berries so she didn’t feel left out of the “regular” eating world. (It is tough to maintain strict eating habits when all your friends seem to carelessly enjoy whatever they want without consequence.) Cindy was extremely grateful. We maintained a close connection after her minor break down in class. We continued to share updates on our health; I was happy to see her incorporating some of what I taught her into her life.
Eventually Cindy passed my class and moved on to complete her high school requirements.
Months had gone by since I’d spoken to her, when one day she ran up to me in the crowded halls of school and gave me a gigantic hug. Her health had taken a major turn for the better and she credited me for the improvements. She said I shared information with her no one else had, not even her doctors. I was overjoyed for her health success.
I was also a little ticked off!!!!
What disturbed me is that I know there are many Cindy’s out there; lost students who simply eat what they think is real food when it is not necessarily the best for them. The educational system is supposed to encourage learning that will give our students a real chance at a successful future. This cannot be done without concentrating on health.
I think other teachers would love the chance to go above and beyond for their students.
But with what resources? What time? What space?
Our schools are over-crowded with students, understaffed, lacking supplies, and time is spent on training kids on how to take money-generating tests instead of teaching what really matters!!!!
Countless students voiced their concerns about the recent budget cuts in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which resulted in a counselor student ration of 1:1000! How healthy is this?! How effective can this system REALLY be?!!!!
This problem is bigger than simply taking soda machines and candy out of the schools. Our young people need an education that will prepare them for life-Real Life, and done in a way that relates to their circumstance.
Physical education and health education need to be priorities, so that we build communities of people who know how to improve their health.
This starts with pumping genuine caring back into education, not simply finding artificial ways to preserve job security for big wig administrators or district suits.
We cannot expect to produce healthy graduates with an unhealthy educational system!!!!
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