Perspectives Online

Cooperative Extension is partner in Move More standards

More than 30 percent of North Carolina's children struggle with overweight or are at-risk for being overweight, according to State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin (left), who hosted the "Move More" standards announcement.
Photo by Daniel Kim

As schools opened across the state this year, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and two partner organizations announced new standards to get the state's K-12 students out of their desks and moving more in schools.

Cooperative Extension, the Division of Public Health and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction announced the new "Move More: North Carolina's Recommended Standards for Physical Activity in School" in August at Carroll Middle School in Raleigh.

"Serving as a partner in this 'Move More' initiative for public schools is a natural fit for us," said Dr. Jon Ort, Cooperative Extension Service director. "We all realize that to truly have a healthy lifestyle, we must 'eat smarter' and 'move more,' the focus of these two initiatives."

The physical activity standards relate to teacher qualifications, class size, school time spent in physical activity, equipment and facilities. Based on these criteria, schools can rate their programs from "needs improvement" to "minimum standard" to "superior standard." The standards also call on school personnel and students' families to model healthy lifestyles for students.

Extension's involvement in the "Move More" standards includes the expertise of professionals like Dr. Carolyn Dunn, N.C. State nutrition specialist, and Dr. Carol Mitchell, of Wake County's Cooperative Extension Center, who helped develop the standards.

Throughout the state, a number of Extension professionals serve on their local School Health Advisory Councils, or SHACS, to help implement the school food and physical activity standards in their communities.

Ort also described how the Pamlico County schools and Cooperative Extension had partnered to pay the salary of Sherry Howlett, program assistant, who teaches nutrition and activity lessons to the school system's 1,700 students. School officials report that, as a result of the program, students perform better in school and make healthier choices in the cafeteria.

- Natalie Hampton