Fifth Annual Parent Summit: A Celebration of Five Years of Health and Wellness Successes

May 26, 2011

By Austin Sears, HSC Communications Intern

On May 18, I had the opportunity to attend the fifth annual Parents United for Healthy Schools Parent Summit. Other than the HSC staff and myself, more than 200 parents representing wellness teams from all across the city of Chicago attended this exciting event.

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Parents look on as the Target/ACF Ensemble performs.

The morning started with a soulful performance by the Target/ACF Ensemble, which set a positive tone for the rest of the summit. Standing in the auditorium, you could feel the energy generated by passionate people united for a common good: improving the health and wellness of children.

Rochelle Davis, president and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign, welcomed the group of outstanding parent wellness teams with warm words of appreciation. Jesse Ruiz, vice president-elect of the Chicago Board of Education, approached the podium and talked about the importance of the work Parents United has done. Ruiz mentioned that “we need to support” Parents United in their efforts because they “know what their communities and families need.” Jesse Ruiz was then presented with over 5,000 signed petitions in favor of Breakfast in the Classroom, Chicago Public Schools's new program to bring breakfast to all elementary students in the distict.

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Jesse Ruiz is presented with over 5,000 petitions in favor of Breakfast in the Classroom.

While the focus of the event was on the parents, we also honored two students who exhibited leadership in employing wellness strategies and asked them each to share their stories. We recognized nine outstanding new school wellness teams and thanked seven Chicago school wellness teams for their ongoing efforts and recognized them as wellness heroes.

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Parents from Perez School accept their Wellness Hero award.

Mary Richardson-Lowry was recognized as a School Wellness Champion for her commitment to student wellness during her tenure as president of the Chicago Board of Education. The occasion also highlighted the successes of the Go for the Gold campaign and encouraged wellness teams not already involved to join in helping schools meet the HealthierUS School Challenge, the program that First Lady Michelle Obama is urging schools to take on.

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Mary Richardson-Lowry (center) accepts her Wellness Champion Award.

Everyone was encouraged to get up and move in an exercise activity led by the parents from Eli Whitney School. The activity showed that a few minutes of physical activity can be fun while also elevating the heart rate to stay healthy The day came to a close with dancing and a lively performance by Son Del Viento, a Chicago-based Latin band.
 
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Parents from Eli Whitney School encourage audience participation in their exercise activity.

This event was significant in that it recognized the achievements of parents across the city of Chicago in advocating for healthy food and physical activity in schools over the past five years. More than 1,000 parents are now actively involved with Parents United and are dedicated to changing the future of school food and fitness for their children.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend such a powerful event! The stories told by parents and students alike were inspiring. I can't wait to see what other positive changes come about because of the work that Parents United does!

Plus! To check out one parent's story of supporting Calamenca School's success in establishing recess as part of the school day, click here!