I have to share this ridiculous thing I recently heard on the news the other day, when I was visiting with my parents. Now, I'm not a news watcher...I have to admit. Most of my information comes second hand. When someone says, "Did you hear about the...?" and I admit that I haven't heard the latest news, they are usually nice enough to fill me in. Maybe I should be more informed...it would be the adult thing to do! But I just can't bring myself to watch. I find that most of the half hour is filled with such negativity and sadness, it HURTS me. Even the weather can be quite depressing, seeing as how I live in New York where we often have lovely, rainy and snowy days! And I find that they often sneak a dead body in when you LEAST EXPECT IT, and that's just not right. To sit through all of that Cheerfulness just to get to the one NICE story at the end, is just too much!
So the fact that I heard this story at all is a total fluke. My father is an avid news watcher unlike me, and not only sits through the local news but the world news as well...and although I normally will leave the room and read, or just go home, this time I didn't. And one story in particular just threw me! The anchorwoman was discussing our country's serious childhood diabetes epidemic. Which IS a serious problem...one that all parents should be aware of, in this fast-paced, fast-food country we live in. It wasn't the story in itself that I found ridiculous, it was the current response to this epidemic that I just couldn't believe! It talked about local schools making the decision to ban classroom birthday celebrations, no longer allowing the students to bring in cupcakes and/or cookies on their special day. As you know, children who suffer from type 2 diabetes do so, all because of that cupcake they had back in October when Brittney turned eight. Really? Are we really going to blame little Brittney for this problem, people??
Now, it's been a while since I've been a student, but I did teach for seven years...and although I wasn't forced to eat the wonderful school lunches, I often had children eat in my room on days when they couldn't handle the social aspect of eating in the cafeteria. So I've seen the food they serve the students, and let me tell you...it hasn't improved much. The amount of preservatives and fat in one piece of cardboard-flavored, cheese-covered pizza must be astronomical...And if a vegetable ever actually landed on one of those pieces, it would probably burst into flames! I know schools don't serve wholesome, organic and healthy food--it costs more money, and they usually don't plan for it in the school budget. Though really...if the school administrators truly believe this health concern can be solved by banning birthday parties, they need to take a serious look at their lunch menus. And school lunches are not the only contributor to this epidemic, either! Parents need to think twice before pulling into the McDonald's drive thru...or packing their shopping carts full of processed food. If you need to ask yourself, "Should meat be in a box??" then it's probably not a good idea to buy it. Put the processed meat that's wrapped in plastic back on the shelf and WALK AWAY.
And as if this wasn't enough, I got to hear what local schools plan on doing INSTEAD of having classroom birthday parties. When little Brittney turns nine next year, instead of bringing in cupcakes to share with her friends, she will get an extra 1/2 hour of GYM class. Oh...JOY! As a person who is very fond of her birthday, I would be quite offended if I were forced to withstand an extra 1/2 hour of my least favorite class on my special day. I knew girls in HS who claimed to have cramps so often, in order to get OUT of gym, I'm surprised they weren't hospitalized! So my question is this: Has the school system, in it's infinite wisdom, thought about what the students could do if they DON'T like gym class? Or are they just assuming once again that every child is the same, and longs to be on the basketball court? What about the disabled, uncoordinated, or just plain clumsy students who prefer books and pencils to P.E.? What if little Brittney would rather play her french horn than a game of volleyball...or paint a picture rather than run the mile? Will that be allowed??
I truly believe that school administrators need to think more about this diabetic epidemic. I commend their efforts and am pleased that they are considering it as an important issue, because it is a serious problem...though I also believe the path they have chosen to solve this epidemic is the wrong path to take. In the end, after all their efforts, they may find that there are still a large number of children in their schools suffering from childhood diabetes due to poor diet. If they choose to make the decision to ban classroom birthday celebrations, fine...though it shouldn't stop there! A more proactive role should be taken to improve the food served in schools, and possibly nutrition classes offered to parents and students alike. As a whole, schools and families can work together to adopt a healthier diet and begin to improve the health of all our children. And those students who like sports and have athletic talent can enjoy their extra 1/2 hour of gym...personally, I think I'll go and join Brittney in the music room. We have a french horn piece to practice, and I'm a little rusty!