Replacing recess when schools cut back

As more and more schools cut back and eliminate recess as they turn their focus to standardized testing, parents must find a way to decrease the risk of obesity and the resulting health and emotional problems in their children. Read more from Johns Creek Patch.

The scary trend of tweens with anorexia

In March 2006, when Michele Walker’s 10-year-old daughter decided to quit gymnastics, the Chattanooga mom was almost relieved. Read more at CNN.

Is constant ‘Facebooking’ bad for teens?

Today’s teens and college students are what researchers call “digital natives,” or the “iGeneration,” a generation constantly connected to the Internet and Facebook, texting and instant messaging. Now, a set of new studies reveals the psychological effects of constant Facebooking. Read more at MSNBC.

soda bottles and cansStudy: Boston schools’ sugary drinks ban paid off

A new study indicates that the Boston public schools’ ban on sugary drinks has paid off, with high school students drinking fewer even when they’re not at school. Read more in the Boston Herald.

Four parenting styles that impact your child’s mental health

Ideally, parenting styles are customized and refined to suit an individual child’s personality, skills, strengths and weaknesses. As an adult your communication style and ways of responding to the world have probably become well ingrained, but I’ve seen over and over again in my practice how some simple adjustments can make for a much happier and well-adjusted child. Read more in USA Today.

Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Summer is winding down and it is time to go back to school, or at least time to prepare to go back to school. Kids have an easier time with learning when they eat breakfast and a healthy lunch. While schools do their best to provide healthy foods, when you pack and send a lunch with your kids, you know they are eating healthy foods. Here are some tips for packing school lunch. Read more in the Examiner. And more tips from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Study targeting depressed teens

The Depression Outcomes Study of Exercise (DOSE) for Teens is approved and funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Researchers are recruiting adolescents ages 12 to 21 years old who are Denver residents experiencing a significant number of depressive symptoms. As incentive, participants receive an iPod Shuffle and $35, plus a  year’s membership to Denver Parks and Recreation locations.

Major depression is a serious condition that affects all ages and affects a large proportion of teenagers. Typical symptoms include problems with mood, irritability, and physical complaints such as problems with sleep, energy, appetite and concentration.

Eligible participants are:

  • Aged 12-21
  • Having symptoms of major depression, which include five or more of the following symptoms during the same two-week period, which are a change from previous functioning that may consist of: problems sleeping (sleeping too much or too little); problems with appetite (eating too much or too little); problems with low energy (too much energy or too little); problems with low self-esteem or guilt; loss of pleasure or enjoyment, or loss of interests in activities; recurrent thoughts of suicide.

Participants are NOT eligible if they:

  • Have had past or present hypomanic or manic episode(s)
  • Are having active symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations or delusions
  • Are having significant problems with alcohol or street drug use
  • Are pregnant
  • Live outside of the Denver city limits

If you are a teenager, a parent or guardian of a teen, or are treating a teen who is interested in this study, please contact Jennifer, the project coordinator, at (303) 565-4321 Ext. 3673 or at Get more information at,, or @DOSEforTeens.

Food Day preparations under way

The first annual Food Day will be held on Oct. 24, 2011. Food Day is a nationwide campaign promoting delicious, healthy and affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the state coordinator/partner of  Food Day in Colorado. Denver Urban Gardens, Denver Botanic Gardens, and The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will be partnering to host a marquee Food Day event from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver. The event will offer four tracks:

  1. Value-added production;
  2. Nutrition;
  3. Growing food;
  4. Food access and security.

For additional information or questions please contact: Jodi Birkofer, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at or call (303) 692-2608. You can help celebrate Food Day by providing activities, such as cooking classes, garden workshops, food speakers, etc. If you conduct/organize a Food Day event -even a small one – add it to the map at so others near you can join in or be inspired to replicate it elsewhere.

First national healthy eating/activity standards for after-school programs

The Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition (HOST), comprised of leaders in out-of-school time care and health promotion, brought together by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) and YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), announce the first-ever comprehensive national nutrition and physical activity standards for out-of-school programs for children in grades K-12. Read more in the PR Newswire.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.