Less than a third of school districts in Ky., which has high child-obesity rates, are in program to increase physical activity

Fifty-four of Kentucky’s 173 school districts have joined a national initiative to increase physical activity in schools, and school officials hope other school districts will soon join in.

Let’s Move Active Schools is a program that encourages schools to create active environments to get all students moving; helps promote physical activity before, during and after school; and encourages parent and community involvement in helping students become healthier, says a state Department of Education press release.

Kentucky has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country, 18 percent, and 35.7 percent of those aged 10-17 are considered either overweight or obese, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Let’s Move helps schools create active environments that get students moving every day and supports their success in school,” state Education Commissioner Terry Holiday said.

Children need at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Studies show that students who get regular physical activity do better in school. Because kids spend so many hours at school, it is considered a great place to make sure they are getting the exercise they need.

The program, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to fight child obesity, also offers support to teachers as they work to align their physical activity programs with program expectations.

County school districts that have joined the initiative are Anderson, Barren, Boone, Bourbon, Bullitt , Butler, Daviess, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Fort Knox, Graves, Grayson, Greenup, Hancock, Hardin, Hart, Henderson, Henry, Hopkins, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Logan, Madison, Morgan, Nelson, Ohio, Oldham, Owen, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Rowan, Spencer, Trigg, Warren, Wayne, Whitley, Wolfe and Woodford.

Independent school districts in the program are Ashland, Bardstown, Beechwood, Berea, Caverna, Covington, Glasgow, Newport, Russell and Williamstown.

The Catholic schools in Louisville that have joined are Holy Spirit School, Notre Dame Academy and St. Gabriel the Archangel. Saint Pius X in Northern Kentucky has also joined the program.

Jamie Sparks, director of coordinated school health for the Department of Education, said in the release, “I would encourage other districts in the state to follow suit and bring Let’s Move! into their schools.”

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